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A History of the Propagation of the 
Muslim Faith 








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It is with considerable diffidence that I publish these pages : the 
subject with which they deal is so vast, and I have had to 
prosecute it under circumstances so disadvantageous, that I can 
hope but for small measure of success. When I may be better 
equipped for the task, and after further study has enabled me to 
fill up the gaps 1 left in the present work, I hope to make it a 
more worthy contribution to this neglected department of 
Muhammadan history ; and to this end I shall be deeply grateful 
for the criticisms and corrections of any scholars who may deign 
to notice the book. To such I would say in the words of 
St. Augustine : " Qui hsec legens dicit, intelligo quidem quid 
dictum sit, sed non vere dictum est ; asserat ut placet sententiam 
suam, et redarguat meam, si potest. Quod si cum caritate et 
veritate fecerit, mihique etiam (si in hac vita maneo) cogno- 
scendum facere curaverit, uberrimum fructum laboris huius mei 
cepero." 3 

As I can neither claim to be an authority nor a specialist on any 
of the periods of history dealt with in this book, and as many of 
the events referred to therein have become matter for controversy, 
I have given full references to the sources consulted ; and here I 
have thought it better to err on the side of excess rather than 
that of defect. I have myself suffered so much inconvenience 

1 E.g. The spread of Islam in Sicily and the missionary labours of the numerous 
Muslim saints. 
2 De Trinitate, i. 5. (Migne, tom. xlii. p. 823.) 


and wasted so much time in hunting up references to books 
indicated in some obscure or unintelligible manner, that I would 
desire to spare others a similar annoyance ; and while to the 
general reader I may appear guilty of pedantry, I may perchance 
save trouble to some scholar who wishes to test the accuracy of a 
statement or pursue any part of the subject further. 

The scheme adopted in this book for the transliteration of 
Arabic words is that laid down by the Transliteration Committee 
of the Tenth International Congress of Orientalists, held at 
Geneva in 1894, with the exception that the last letter of the 
article is assimilated to the so-called solar letters. In the case of 
geographical names this scheme has not been so rigidly applied 
in many instances because I could not discover the original 
Arabic form of the word, in others (e.g. Mecca, Medina), because 
usage has almost created for them a prescriptive title. 

Though this work is confessedly, as explained in the Intro 
duction, a record of missionary efforts and not a history of 
persecutions, 1 1 have endeavoured to be strictly impartial and to 
conform to the ideal laid down by the Christian historian 2 who 
chronicled the successes of the Ottomans and the fall of Con- 
stantinople : ovt irpos X'H 3 ^ ^ T "T 5 <f>Q V0V i < *^' ^ Tpos /xwt-os 
77 xai irpos tvvoiav crvyypdipeLV -)(pnliv ori rbv avyy pd^ovra^ dAA' 
Mrropi'as fiovov X*P iy * a * TOU M A #fy fivOto irapaSodrjvai, rjv 6 xpovos 
oT8 ytwav, ttjv urroplav. 

I desire to thank Her Excellency the Princess Barberini ; His 
Excellency the Prince Chigi ; the Most Rev. Dr. Paul Goethals, 
Archbishop of Calcutta ; the Right Rev. Fr. Francis Pesci, Bishop 
of Allahabad ; the Rev. S. S. Allnutt, of the Cambridge Mission, 
Dehli ; the Trustees of Dr. Williams's Library, Gordon Square, 
London, for the liberal use they have allowed me of their 
respective libraries. 

1 Accordingly the reader will find no account of the recent history of Armenia 
or Crete, or indeed of any part of the empire of the Turks during the present 
CC ^ t *!7 a P*" * 1 singularly barren of missionary enterprise on their part. 



I am under an especial debt of gratitude to James Kennedy, Esq., 
late of the Bengal Civil Service, who has never ceased to take a 
kindly interest in my book, though it has almost exemplified the 
Horatian precept, Nonum prematur in annum ; to his profound 
scholarship and wide reading I have been indebted for much 
information that would otherwise have remained unknown to 
me, nor do I owe less to the stimulus of his enthusiastic love of 
learning and his helpful sympathy. I am also under a debt of 
gratitude to the kindness of Conte Ugo Balzani, but for whose 
assistance certain parts of my work would have been impossible 
to me. To the late Professor Robertson Smith I am indebted for 
valuable suggestions as to the lines of study on which the history 
of the North African church and the condition of the Christians 
under Muslim rule, should be worked out ; the profound regret 
which all Semitic scholars feel at his loss is to me intensified by 
the thought that this is the only acknowledgement I am able to 
make of his generous help and encouragement. 

I desire also to acknowledge my obligations to Sir Sayyid 
Ahmad Khan Bahadur, K.C.S.I., LL.D. ; to my learned friend 
and colleague, Shamsu-1 'Ulama' Mawlawi Muhammad Shibli 
Nu'mani, who has assisted me most generously out of the 
abundance of his knowledge of early Muhammadan history ; and 
to my former pupil, Mawlawi Bahadur *Ali, M.A. 

Lastly, and above all, must I thank my dear wife, but for whom 
this work would never have emerged out of a chaos of incoherent 
materials, and whose sympathy and approval are the best reward 
of my labours. 




A missionary religion defined. Islam spread by missiona ry methods t 
and not T5yi jte-sw ord. The Qur'an enjoins pr eaching a nd per- 
suasion, arid" forbids viojeiice_andforce in the conversion of 

i unbelievers. The present work~a~"hls tpry ~^f~m issions, not of 
persecutions ....... . . . . . T ; . i 


OFiSLAM; """""" 

Muhammad the type of the MjusHm_jnissionary. Account of his 
early efforts at prop^gatfngTlsIam, and of the conversions made 
in Mecca before the Hijrah. Persecution of the converts, and 
Flight to Medina: Condition of the Muslim&4a-Medina : begin- 
ning of the natJonaMife of Islam. Islam offered (a) to the 
Arabs, (J?) to th^ whoIe~ worla r 7~ Islam declared in the Qur'an to 
be a~universaLxeligion, as being the_primitiyefeithdelivered 
to Abraham. Muhammad as the founder of a poTIfjcal organisa- 
tion. The wars of Muhammad, not^agg ressiveTout defen sive. 
The spread of Islam and the efforts made~to convert the Arabs 
after the Hijrah. The ideals of Islam and those of Pre-Islamic 
Arabia contrasted 8 



Causes of the early successes of the Muslims. Conversion of Chris- 
tian Bedouins : arrangements made for the instruction of the 
converts. Toleration extended to those who remained Chris- 
tian. The settled population of the towns : failure of Heraclius's 
attempt to reconcile the contending Christian sects. The Arab 
conquest of Syria and Palestine : their toleration : the Ordinance 
of 'Umar : jizyah paid in return for protection and in lieu of 
military service. Condition of the Christians under Muslim 
rule : they occupy high posts, build new churches : revival in 
the Nestorian church. Causes of their conversion to Islam : 
revolt against Byzantine ecclesiasticism : influence of rationalistic 
thought : imposing character of Muslim civilisation. Persecu- 
tions suffered by the Christians. Proselytising efforts. Details 
of conversion to Islam. Account of conversions from among 
the Crusaders. The Armenian and Georgian Churches . . 42 






Egypt : conquered by the Arabs, who are welcomed by the Copts as 
their deliverers from Byzantine rule. Condition of the Copts 
under the Muslims. Corruption and negligence of the clergy 
lead to conversions to Islam. Nubia: relations with Muhamma- 
dan powers : political independence maintained until their con- 
version to Islam : not converted by force, but through the decay 
of the Christian faith and the influence of Muslim merchants. 
Abyssinia : the Arabs on the sea-board : missionary efforts in 
the fourteenth century : invasion of Ahmad Gragne : conver- 
sions to Islam : progress of Islam in the present century : 
persecution of the Muslims. Northern Africa : extent of Chris- 
tianity in North Africa in the seventh century : the Christians 
are said to have been forcibly converted : reasons for thinking 
that this statement is not true : toleration enjoyed by the Chris- 
tians : gradual disappearance of the Christian Church . 87 



Christianity in Spain before the Muslim conquest : miserable con- 
dition of the Jews and the slaves. Early converts to Islam. 
Corruption of the clergy. Toleration of the Arabs, and influence 
of their civilisation on the Christians, who study Arabic and 
adopt Arab dress and manners. Causes of conversion to Islam. 
The voluntary martyrs of Cordova. Extent of the conversions .112 



Relations of the Turks to their Christian subjects during the first 
two centuries of their rule : toleration extended to the Greek 
Church by Muhammad II. : the benefits of Ottoman rule : its 
disadvantages, the tribute-children, the capitation tax, tyranny 
of individuals. Forced conversion rare. Proselytising efforts 
made by the Turks. Circumstances that favoured the spread of 
Islam : degraded condition of the Greek Church : failure of the 
attempt to Protestantise the Greek Church : oppression of the 
Greek clergy : moral superiority of the Ottomans : imposing 
character of their conquests. Conversion of Christian slaves. 
Islam in Albania, conquest of the country, independent character 
of its people, gradual decay of the Christian faith, and its 
causes ; in Servia, alliance of the Servians with the Turks, 
conversions mainly from among the nobles except in Old 
Servia; in Montenegro ; in Bosnia, the Bogomiles, points of 
similarity between the Bogomilian heresy and the Muslim creed, 
conversion to Islam ; in Crete, conversion in the ninth century, 
oppression of the Venetian rule, conquered by the Turks, con- 
versions to Islam 125 





, U?i0US conditmn -< * .K^tf 
'Conversmns^to .Islam. ^ ^ and Affflsanl5t an 


A. Moneol conquests. Bud X Mongols. Their 
Account of. the " the allegiance of the mo 8 h 

the Russian Empire. 


., n ( tYi* Muhammadan P P ul ^ n ; f ls i am : conversion 


the lower <*V^ > of Mus lim missionaries .notne g 

LfT* anaS movements c -modem t^^ f 

Early notices of islam ^,&V SffJSSfc 
spread of Islam : VasUc sv, , Arabs . sprea d ot lsiam 

Intercourse f the ; Xence oTthe Mongol conques^ S^ I* 

ttttgSg&stt r 2 chinese 

| ^rnmenrThe"r%Cts e to spread their religion . 






The Arabs in Northern Africa : conversion of the Berbers : the 
mission of \Abdu-llah ibn Yassln. Introduction of Islam into 
the Sudan : rise of Muhammadan kingdoms : account of mission- 
ary movements, Danfodio, 'Uthmanu-1 Amir GhanI, the Qadri- 
yah, the Tijanlyah, and the Sanuslyah. Spread of Islam on 
the West Coast : Ashanti : Dahomey. Spread of Islam on the 
East Coast : early Muslim settlements : the Galla : the Somali. 
Islam in Cape Coast Colony. Account of the Muslim mission- 
aries in Africa and their methods of winning converts . .258 



Early intercourse between the Malay Archipelago and Arabia and 
India. Methods of missionary work. History of Islam in 
Sumatra; in the Malay Peninsula; in Java; in the Moluccas ; 
in Borneo; in Celebes; in Mindanao and the Sulu Islands; 
among the Papuans. The Muslim missionaries : traders : hajls 293 



Absence a f mission a ry organisation in Islam: zeal on thejpart of 
individuals. Who are tjie^ Muslim missionaries ? Causes that 
havecontribu ted to their success : tnVsimplicity oLthe Muslim 
creed : the rationalism and ritualism o f Islam; Islam not spread 
*blTthe swo rd. ThTToleration ol **"fcl uhamm adan governments. 
Circumstances contributing to the progress of Islam in ancient 
and inlnoSern times 332 


Jihad : meaning of the word : passages in the Qur'an in which it 
\ occurs .347 


Letter of Al Hashimi inviting Al Kindi to embrace Islam . . . 353 


Controversial literature between Muslims and the followers of 
other faiths 359 


Converts to Islam that have not come under direct missionary 
influences 361 

Titles of Works cited by Abbreviated References . . 373 
Index 3 8 4 




Ever since Professor Max Miiller delivered his lecture in West- 
minster Abbey, on the day of intercession for missions, in 
December, 1873, it has been a literary commonplace, that the six 
great religions of the world may be divided into missionary and 
non-missionary ; under the latter head will fall Judaism, Brah- 
manism and Zoroastrianism, and under the former Buddhism, 
Christianity and Islam ; and he has well defined what the term, 
a missionary religion, should be taken to mean, viz. one " in 
which the spreading of the truth and the conversion of unbelievers 
are raised to the rank of a sacred duty by the founder or his 
immediate successors. ... It is the spirit of truth in the hearts of 
believers which cannot rest, unless it manifests itself in thought, 
word and deed, which is not satisfied till it has carried its message 
to every human soul, till what it believes to be the truth is 
accepted as the truth by all members of the human family." x 

It is such a zeal for the truth of their religion that has inspired 
the Muhammadans to carry with them the message of Islam to 
the people of every land into which they penetrate, and that 
justly claims for their religion a place among those we term 
missionary. It is the history of the birch of this missionary zeal, 
its inspiring forces and the modes of its activity that forms the 
subject of the following pages. The 173 millions of Muhammadans 

1 A note on Mr. Lyall's article : t; Missionary Religions." Fortnightly Review, 
July, 1874. 


scattered over the world at the present day are evidences of its 
workings through the length of twelve centuries. 

An eternal and life-bringing truth, the message of the One God 
was proclaimed to the people of Arabia in the seventh century, by 
a prophet under whose banner their scattered tribes became a 
nation ; and filled with the pulsations of this new national life, 
and with a religious fervour and enthusiasm that imparted an 
almost invincible strength to their armies, they poured forth over 
three continents to conquer and subdue. Syria, Palestine, Egypt, 
North Africa and Persia were the first to fall before them, and 
pressing westward to Spain and eastward beyond the Indus, the 
followers of the Prophet found themselves, one hundred years 
after his death, masters of an empire greater than that of Rome at 
the zenith of its power. 

Although in after years this great empire was split up and the 
political power of Islam diminished, still its spiritual conquests went 
on uninterruptedly. When the Mongol hordes sacked Baghdad 
(a.d. 1258) and drowned in blood the faded glory of the 'Abbasid 
dynasty, when the Muslims were expelled from Cordova by 
Ferdinand of Leon and Castile (a.d. 1236), and Granada, the last 
stronghold of Islam in Spain, paid tribute to the Christian king, 
Islam had just gained a footing in the island of Sumatra and was 
just about to commence its triumphant progress through the 
^islands of the Malay Archipelago. In the hours of its political 
degradation, Islam has achieved some of its most brilliant spiritual 
conquests : on two great historical occasions, infidel barbarians 
have set their feet on the necks of the followers of the Prophet, 
the Saljuq Turks in the eleventh and the Mongols in the thirteenth 
century, and in each case the conquerors have accepted the 
religion of the conquered. Unaided also by the temporal power 
and innocent of any political motive, Muslim missionaries have 
carried their faith into Central Africa, China and the East India 

At the present day the faith of Islam extends from Morocco to 
Zanzibar, from Sierra Leone to Siberia and China, from Bosnia 
to New Guinea. Outside the limits of strictly Muhammadan 
countries and of lands, such as China and Russia, that contain a 
large Muhammadan population, there are some few small com- 
munities of the followers of the Prophet, which bear witness to 
the faith of Islam in the midst of unbelievers. Such are the 


Polish-speaking Muslims of Tartar origin in Lithuania, that 
inhabit the districts of Kovno, Vilno and Grodno ; l the Dutch- 
speaking Muslims of Cape Colony ; and the Indian coolies that 
have carried the faith of Islam with them to 'the West India 
Islands and to British and Dutch Guiana. In recent years, too, 
Islam has found adherents in England (where the numbers of 
the converts had risen in 1894 to 137), in North America and 

The spread of this faith over so vast a portion of the globe is 
due to various causes, social, political and religious : but among 
these, one of the most powerful factors at work in the production 
of this stupendous result, has been the unremitted labours of 
Muslim missionaries, who, with the Prophet himself as their great 
ensample, have spent, themselves for the conversion of un- 

The duty of missionary work is no after-thought in the history 
of Islam, but was enjoined on believers from the beginning, as 
may be judged from the following passages in the Qur an, which 
are here quoted in chronological order according to the date of 
their being delivered. 

" Summon thou to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and with 
kindly warning : dispute with them in the kindest manner, 
(xvi. 126.) 
u They who have inherited the Book after them (i.e. the Jews 

and Christians), are in perplexity of doubt concerning it. 
M For this cause summon thou (them to the faith), and walk up- 
rightly therein as thou hast been bidden, and follow not 
their desires : and say : In whatsoever Books God hath 
sent down do I believe : I am commanded to decide justly 
between you : God is your Lord and our Lord : we have 
our works and you have your works : between us and you 
let there be no strife : God will make us all one : and to 
Him shall we return." (xlii. 13-14.) 
Similar injunctions are found also in the Medinite Surahs, 
delivered at a time when Muhammad was at the head of a large 
army and at the height of his power. 

"Say to those who have been given the Book and to the 
ignorant, Do you accept Islam ? Then, if they accept 
Islam, are they guided aright : but if they turn away, then 
1 Reclus, vol. v. p. 433. 
b 2 



thy duty is only preaching ; and God's eye is on His 
servants, (iii. 19.) 
i4 Thus God clearly showeth you His signs that perchance ye 

may be guided ; 
* 4 And that there may be from among you a people who invite to 
the Good, and enjoin the Just, and forbid the Wrong ; and 
these are they with whom it shall be well. (iii. 99-100.) 
u To every people have We appointed observances which they 
observe. Therefore let them not dispute the matter with 
thee, but summon them to thy Lord : Verily thou art 
guided aright : 
M But if they debate with thee, then say : God best knoweth 

what ye do ! (xxii. 66-7.) 
The following passages are taken from what is generally sup- 
posed to be the last Surah that was delivered. 

H If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum of 

thee, grant him an asylum in order that he hear the 

word of God ; then let him reach his place of safety." 

(ix. 6.) 

With regard to the unbelievers who had broken their plighted 

word, who u sell the signs of God for a mean price and turn others 

aside from His way," and "respect not with a believer either 

ties of blood or good faith," ... it is said : 

M Yet if they turn to God and observe prayer and give alms, 
then are they your brothers in the faith : and We make 
clear the signs for men of knowledge." (ix. 11.) 
Thus from its very inception Islam has been a missionary 
religion, both in theory and in practice, for the life of Muhammad 
exemplifies the same teaching and the Prophet himself stands at 
the head of a long series of Muslim missionaries who have won 
an entrance for their faith into the hearts of unbelievers. More- 
over it is not in the cruelties of the persecutor or the fury of the 
fanatic that we should look for the evidences of the missionary 
spirit of Islam, any more than in the exploits of that mythical 
personage, the Muslim warrior with sword in one hand and 
Qur'an in the other, but in the quiet, unobtrusive labours of the 
preacher and the trader who have carried their faith into every 
quarter of the globe. Such peaceful methods of preaching and 
persuasion were not adopted, as some would have us believe, only 
when political circumstances made force and violence impossible 


or impolitic, but were most strictly enjoined in numerous passages 
of the Qur'an, as follows : 

" And endure- what they say with patience, and depart from 
them with a decorous departure. 

" And let Me alone with the gainsayers, rich in the pleasures 
(of this life) ; and bear thou with them yet a little while, 
(lxxiii. 10 11.) 

11 (My) sole (work is preaching from God and His message. 
(Ixxii. 24.) 

" Tell those who have believed to pardon those who hope not 
for the days of God in which He purposeth to recompense 
men according to their deserts, (xlv. 13.) 

" They who had joined other gods with God say, { Had He 
pleased, neither we nor our forefathers had worshipped 
aught but Him ; nor had we, apart from Him, declared 
anything unlawful.' Thus acted they who were before 
them. Yet is the duty of the apostles other than plain- 
spoken preaching ? (xvi. 37.) 

M Then if they turn their backs, still thy office is only plain- 
spoken preaching, (xvi. 84.) ' 

" Dispute ye not, unless in kindliest sort, with the people of the 
Book ; save with such of them as have dealt wrongfully 
(with you) : and say ye v * We believe in what has been 
sent down to us and hath been sent down to you. Our 
God and your God is one, and to Him are we self- 
surrendered.' (xxix. 45.) 

u But if they turn aside from thee, yet We have not sent thee to 
be guardian over them. 'Tis thine but to preach, (xlii. 47.) 

11 But if thy Lord had pleased, verily all who are in the world 
would have believed together. Wilt thou then compel 
men to become believers ? (x. 99.) 

u And we have not sent thee otherwise than to mankind at 
large, to announce and to warn, (xxxiv. 27.) 

Such precepts are not confined to the Meccan Surahs, but are 
found in abundance also in those delivered at Medina, as 
follows : 

" Let there be no compulsion in religion, (ii. 257.) 

" Obey God and obey the apostle ; but if ye turn away, yet is 
our apostle only charged with plain-spoken preaching, 
(lxiv. 12.) 


V Obey God and obey the apostle : but if ye turn back, still the 
burden of his duty is on him only, and the burden of your 
duty rests on you. And if ye obey him, ye shall have 
guidance : but plain preaching is all that devolves upon 
the apostle, (xxiv. 53. 
a Say : O men ! I am only your plain-spoken (open) warner. 

(xxii. 48.) 
" Verily We have sent thee to be a witness and a herald of 

good and a warner, 

" That ye may believe on God and on His apostle ; and may 

assist Him and honour Him, and praise Him morning and 

evening, (xlviii. 8-9.) 

" Thou wilt not cease to discover the treacherous ones among 

them, except a few of them. But forgive them and pass it 

over. Verily, God 4 loveth those who act generously." 

(v. 16.) 

It is the object of the following pages to show how this ideal 

was realised in history and how these principles of missionary 

activity were put into practice by the exponents of Islam. And 

at the outset the reader should clearly understand that this work 

is not intended to be a history of Muhammadan persecutions 

but of Muhammadan missions it does not aim at chronicling 

the instances of forced conversions which may be found scattered 

up and down the pages of Muhammadan histories. European 

writers have taken such care to accentuate these, that there is no 

fear of their being forgotten, and they do not strictly come within 

the province of a history of missions. In a history of Christian 

missions we should naturally expe ct to^ Jiearmore of the labours 

of St. Liudger and St. Willehad^amojig_Uie pagan Saxons than of 

the baptisms that Charler^agn^JforcedTKem to undergo at the 

point of the sword. 1 The true missionaries of Denmark were 

St. Ansgar andrlis successors rather than King Cnut, who forcibly 

rooted out paganism from his dominions. 3 Abbot Gottfried and 

Bishop Christian, though less successful in converting the pagan 

1 See Enhardi Fuldensis Annales, A.D. 777. " Saxones post multas coedes et 
varia bella afflicti, tandem christiani effecti, Francorum dicioni subduntur." 
G. H. Pertz : Monumenta Germanise Historica. Vol. i. p. 349. (See also 
pp. 156, 159.) 

- " Turn zelo propaganda fidei succensus, barbara regna iusto ccrtaminc 
apgrcssus, devictas subditasque nationes Christiana? legi subiugavit." (Breviarium 
Romanum. Iun. 19.) 



Prussians, were more truly representative of Christian missionary 
work than the Brethren of the Sword and other Crusaders who 
brought their labours to completion by means of fire and sword. 
The knights of the " Ordo fratrum militia? Christi " forced 
Christianity on the people of Livonia, but it is not to these 
militant propagandists but to the monks Meinhard and Theo- 
doric that we should point as being the true missionaries of the 
Christian faith in this country. The violent means sometimes 
employed by the Jesuit missionaries l cannot derogate from the 
honour due to St. Francis Xavier and other preachers of the 
same order. Nor is Valentyn any the Jess the apostle of 
Amboyna because in 1699 an order was promulgated to the 
Rajas of this island that they should have ready a certain number 
of pagans to be baptised, when the pastor came on his rounds. 2 

Similarly Al Mutawakkil, Al Hakim and Tipu Sultan are not to 
be looked upon as typical missionaries of Islam to the exclusion 
of such preachers as Mawlana Ibrahim, the apostle of Java, 
Khwajah Mu'inu-d Din Chishti in India and countless others who 
won converts to the Muslim faith by peaceful means alone. 

J Mathurin Veyssiere de la Croze : Histoire du Christianisme des Indes, pp. 
529-531. (The Hague, 1724.) 
% Revue de l'Histoire des Religions, vol. xu p. 89^ 




It is not proposed in this chapter to add another to the already- 
numerous biographies of Muhammad, but rather to make a study 
of his life in one of its aspects only, viz. that in which the 
Prophet is piesented to us as a preacher, as the apostle unto 
men of a new religion. 1 The life of the founder of Islam and the 
inaugurator of its propaganda may naturally be expected to 
exhibit to us the true character of the missionary activity of this 
religion. If the life of the Prophet serves as the standard of con- 
duct for the ordinary believer, it must do the same for the Muslim 
missionary. From the pattern, therefore, we may hope to learn, 
something of the spirit that would animate those who sought to 
copy it, and of the methods they might be expected to adopt. 
For the missionary spirit of Islam is no after-thought in its 
history ; it interpenetrates the religion from its very commence- 
ment, and in the following sketch it is desired to show how this 
is so, how Muhammad the Prophet is the type of the missionary 
of Islam. It is therefore beside the purpose to describe his 
early history, or the influences under which he grew up to man- 
hood, or to consider him in the light either of a statesman or a 
general : it is as the preacher alone that he will demand our 

f When, after long internal conflict and disquietude, after whole 
days and nights of meditation and prayer in the cave of Mount 
Hira ( , Muhammad was at length convinced of his divine mission, 
when at length {he Voice aroused him from his despondency 

1 Kxccpt where special references are given, the facts recorded in this chapter 
!>e found in all the well-known biographies of the Prophet by Caussin de 
Perceval, Muir, Sprenger, Krchl, etc. Whenever several verses are quoted from 
the Qur'an they are arranged in chronological order. 


and fear, and bade him proclaim unto men the truth that day by- 
day more strongly forced itself upon him, his earliest efforts were 
directed towards persuading his ow n fa mily of the truth of the 
new doctrine. The unity of God7the~libommation of idolatry,, 
the duty laid upon man of submission to the will of his Creator, 
these were the simple truths to which he claimed their allegiance.. 
The first convert was his faithful and loving wife, Khadijah, she 
who fifteen years before had offered her hand in marriage to the 
poor kinsman that had so successfully traded with her 1 merchan- 
dise as a hired agent, with the words, u I love thee, my cousin, 
for thy kinship with me, for the respect with which the people- 
regard thee, for thy honesty, for the beauty of thy character and 
for the truthfulness of thy speech." She had lifted him out of 
poverty, and enabled him to live up to the social position to- 
which he was entitled by right of birth ; but this was as nothing to 
the fidelity and loving devotion with which she shared his mental 
anxieties, and helped him with tenderest sympathy and encour- 
agement in the hour of his despondency. When in an agony of 
mind, after having seen a vision, he once fled to her for comfort,, 
she thus revived his downcast spirit : " Fear not, for joyful tidings 
dost thou bring. I will henceforth regard thee as the Prophet 
of our nation. Rejoice : Allah will not suffer thee to fall to shame. 
Hast thou not been loving to thy kinsfolk, kind to thy neigh- 
bours, charitable to the poor, faithful to thy word, and ever a 
defender of the truth ? " Thus up to her death in 619 a.d. (after 
a wedded life of five and twenty years) she was always ready with 
sympathy, consolation and encouragement whenever he suffered 
from the persecution of his enemies or was tortured by doubts 
and misgivings. " So Khadijah believed," says the biographer of 
the Prophet, " and attested the truth of that which came to him 
from God. Thus was the Lord minded to lighten the burden of 
His Prophet ; for he heard nothing that grieved him touching his 
rejection by the people, but he had recourse unto her and she- 
comforted, re-assured and supported him." Truly, one of the- 
most beautiful pictures of a perfect wedded life that history 
gives us. 

Among the earliest believers were his adopted children Zayd. 
and 'All, and his bosom friend Abu Bakr, of whom Muhammad 
would often say in after years-" I never invited any to the: 
faith who displayed not hesitation and perplexity excepting only 


Abu Bakr ; who when I had pronounced unto him Islam tarried 
not, neither was perplexed." He was a wealthy merchant, much 
respected by his fellow citizens for the integrity of his character 
and for his intelligence and ability. After his conversion he 
expended the greater part of his fortune on the purchase of 
Muslim slaves who were persecuted by their masters on account of 
their adherence to the teaching of Muhammad. Through his 
influence, to a great extent, five of the earliest converts were 
added to the number of believers, Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas, the future 
conqueror of the Persians ; Zubayr ibnu-1'Awwam, a relative both 
of the Prophet and his wife ; Talhah, famous as a warrior in 
after days ; a wealthy merchant 'Abdu-r Rahman, and 'Uthman, 
the third Khalifah. The last was early exposed to persecution ; 
his uncle seized and bound him, saying, M Dost thou prefer a new 
religion to that of thy fathers ? I swear I will not loose thee 
until thou givest up this new faith thou art following after." To 
which 'Uthman replied, " By the Lord, I will never abandon it ! " 
Whereupon his uncle, seeing the firmness of his attachment to 
his faith, released him. 

With other additions, particularly from among slaves and 
poor persons, the number of the believers reached to nearly forty 
during the first three years of his mission. Encouraged by the 
success of these private efforts, Muhammad determined on more 
active measures. He called his kinsmen together and invited 
them to embrace the new faith. "No Arab," he urged, " has 
offered to his nation more precious advantages than those I bring 
you. I offer you happiness in this world and in the life to come. 
Who among you will aid me in this task ? " All were silent. 
Only 'Ali, with boyish enthusiasm, cried out, "Prophet of God, 
I will aid thee." At this the company broke up with derisive 

Undeterred by the ill-success of this preaching, he repeatedly 
called them together on future occasions, but his message and his 
warnings received from them nothing but scoffing and contempt. 
Indeed, the virulence of their opposition is probably the reason 
why in the fourth year of his mission, he took up his residence 
in the house of Arqam, an early convert. It was in a central 
and frequented situation, fronting the Ka'bah,and here peaceably 
and without interruption he was able to preach and recite the 
Our'an to all enquirers that came to him ; and so the number 


of the believers increased, and within the next two years rose to 
fifty. The Quraysh viewed this progress of the new religion with 
increasing dissatisfaction and hatred. They adopted all possible 
means, threats and promises, insults and offers of worldly 
honour and aggrandisement to induce Muhammad to abandon 
the part he had taken up. 

On more than one occasion they tried to induce his unicle 
Abu Talib, as head of the clan of the Banu Hashim, to which 
Muhammad belonged, to restrain him from making such attacks 
upon their ancestral faith, or otherwise they threatened to resort 
to more violent measures. Abu Talib accordingly appealed to his 
nephew not to bring disaster on himself and his family. The 
Prophet replied : u Were the sun to come down on my right hand 
and the moon on my left, and were the choice offered me of 
renouncing this work or of perishing in the achievement of it, I 
would not abandon it." Abu Talib was moved and exclaimed, 
u Preach whatever thou wilt. I swear I will never give thee up 
unto thy enemies." / 

When such peaceful methods failed, the rage and fury of the 
Quraysh burst forth with redoubled force. They realised that 
the triumph of the new teaching meant the destruction of the 
national religion and the national worship, and a loss of wealth and 
power to the guardians of the sacred Ka'bah. Muhammad him- 
self was safe under the protection of Abu Talib and the Banu 
Hashim, who, though they had no sympathy for the doctrines 
their kinsman taught, yet with the strong clan- feeling peculiar to 
the Arabs, secured him from any attempt upon his life, though 
he was still exposed to continual insult and annoyance. But the 
poor who had no protector, and the slaves, had to endure the 
cruellest persecution, and were imprisoned and tortured in order 
to induce them to recant. It was at this time that Abu Bakr 
purchased the freedom of Bilal, 1 an African slave, who was called 
by Muhammad " the first-fruits of Abyssinia." He had been 
cruelly tortured by being exposed, day after day, to the scorching 
rays of the sun, stretched out on his back, with an enormous 
stone on his stomach ; here he was told he would have to stay 
until either he died or renounced Muhammad and worshipped 
idols, to which he would reply only, M There is but one God, there 
is but one God." Two persons died under the fearful tortures 

1 He is famous throughout the Muhammadan world as the first mu'adhdhin. 


they had to undergo. As Muhammad was unable to relieve his 
persecuted followers, he advised them to take refuge in Abyssinia, 
and in the fifth year of his mission (a.d. 615), eleven men and 
four women crossed over to Abyssinia, where they received a 
kind welcome from the Christian king of the country. Among 
them was a certain Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr whose history is inter- 
esting as of one, who had to endure that most bitter trial of the 
new convert the hatred of those he loves and who once loved 
him. He had been led to embrace Islam through the teaching 
he had listened to in the house of Arqam, but he was afraid to 
let the fact of his conversion become known, because his tribe 
and his mother, who bore an especial love to him, were bitterly 
opposed to the new religion ; and indeed, when they discovered 
the fact, seized and imprisoned him. But he succeeded in effect- 
ing his escape to Abyssinia. 

The hatred of the Quraysn pursued the fugitives even to 
Abyssinia, and an embassy was sent to demand their extradition 
from the king of that country. But when he heard their story 
from the Muslims, he refused to withdraw from them his pro- 
tection. For, said they, " We were plunged in the darkness of 
ignorance and worshipped idols. Given up wholly to our evil 
passions, we knew no law but that of the strongest, when God 
raised up among us a man of our own race, illustrious by his 
birth and long esteemed by us for his virtues. This apostle 
called upon us to profess the unity of God, to worship God alone, 
to reject the superstitions of our fathers, and despise the gods of 
wood and stone. He bade us flee from wickedness, be truthful 
in speech, faithful to our promises, kind and affectionate to our 
parents and neighbours. He forbade us to dishonour women or 
rob the orphans; he enjoined on us prayer, alms and fasting. 
We believed in his mission and accepted the teachings that he 
brought us from God. But our countrymen rose up against us, 
and persecuted us to make us renounce our faith and return to 
the worship of idols. So, finding no safety in our own country, 
we have sought a refuge in yours. Putting our trust in your 
justice, we hope that you will deliver us from the oppression of our 
enemies." Their prayer was heard and the embassy of the 
Quraysh returned discomfited. Meanwhile, in Mecca, a fresh 
attempt was made to induce the Prophet to abandon his work of 
preaching by promises of wealth and honour, but in vain. 



While the result of the embassy to Abyssinia was being looked 
for in Mecca with the greatest expectancy, there occurred the 
conversion of a man, who before had been one of the most bitter 
enemies of Muhammad, and had opposed him with the utmost 
persistence and fanaticism a man whom the Muslims had every 
reason then to look on as their most terrible and virulent enemy, 
though afterwards he shines as one of the noblest figures in the 
early history of Islam, viz. 'Umar ibnu-1 Khattab. One day, in a ^ 
fit of rage against the Prophet, he set out, sword in hand, to slay 
him. On the way, one of his relatives met him and asked him 
where he was going. " I am looking for Muhammad," he 
answered, " to kill the wretch who has brought trouble and 
<liscord among his fellow-citizens, insulted our gods, and outraged 
the memory of our ancestors." " Why dost thou not rather 
punish those of thy own family, who, unknown to thee, have 
renounced the religion of our fathers ? " " And who are these of 
my own family ? " answered 'Umar. u Thy brother-in-law Sa'Id 
and thy sister Fatimah." 'Umar at once rushed off to the house 
of his sister, who, with her husband and Khabbab, another of the 
followers of Muhammad, who was instructing them in the faith, 
were reading a passage of the Qur'an together. 'Umar burst 
into the room : " What was that sound I heard ? " "It was 
nothing," they replied. " Nay, you were reading, and I have 
heard that you have joined the sect of Muhammad." Where- 
upon he rushed upon Sa'id and struck him. Fatimah threw 
herself between them, to protect her husband, crying, " Yes, we 
are Muslims ; we believe in God and His Prophet : slay us if you 
will." In the struggle his sister was wounded, and when 'Umar 
saw the blood on her face, he was softened and asked to see the 
paper they had been reading : after some hesitation she handed 
it to him. It contained the 20th Surah of the Qur'an. When 
"'Umar read it, he exclaimed, "How beautiful, how sublime it 
is ! " As he read on, conviction suddenly overpowered him and 
he cried, " Lead me to Muhammad that I may tell him of my 

About the same time also, another important convert was 
gained in the person ot Hamzah, at once the uncle and foster- 
brother of Muhammad, whose chivalrous soul was so stung to 
sudden sympathy by a tale of insult inflicted on and patiently 
borne by his nephew, that he changed at once from a bitter 


enemy into a staunch adherent. His was not the only instance 
of sympathy for the sufferings of the Muslims being thus aroused 
at the sight of the persecutions they had to endure, and many, 
no doubt, secretly favoured the new religion who did not declare 
themselves until the day of its triumph. 

The conversion of 'Umar is a turning-point in the history ot 
Islam : the Muslims were now able to take up a bolder attitude. 
Muhammad left the house of Arqam and the believers publicly 
performed their devotions together around the Ka'bah. 

But this immunity was short-lived. The embassy to Abyssinia 
had returned unsuccessful, since the king had refused to with- 
draw his protection from the Muslim fugitives. The situation 
might thus be expected to give the aristocracy of Mecca just 
cause for apprehension. For they had no longer to deal with a 
band of oppressed and despised outcasts, struggling for a weak 
and miserable existence. It was rather a powerful faction, adding 
daily to its strength by the accession of influential citizens and 
endangering the stability of the existing government by an 
alliance with a powerful foreign prince. 

The Quraysh resolved accordingly to make a determined effort 
to crush out this dangerous element in the state. They put the 
Banu Hashim and the Banu Muttalib, who through ties of 
kindred protected the Prophet, under a ban, in accordance with 
which the Quraysh agreed that they would not marry their 
women, nor give their own in marriage to them ; they would 
sell nothing to them, nor buy aught from them that dealings 
with them of every kind should cease. 

This increased severity of persecution, with its attendant 
dangers, led to a second flight to Abyssinia this time, of eighty- 
three men and eighteen women. 

For three years the Banu Hashim remained shut up in one 
quarter of the city ; during all this time the ban was put 
rigorously in force against them. None dared venture out 
except during the sacred months, in which all war ceased 
throughout Arabia and a truce was made in order that pilgrims 
might visit the sacred Ka'bah, the centre of the national religion. 

Muhammad used to take advantage of such times of pilgrimage 
to preach to the various tribes that flocked to Mecca and the 
adjacent fairs. But with no success, for his uncle Abu Lahab 
used to dog his footsteps, crying with a loud voice, " He is an 




or who wants to draw you away from the faith of your 
fathers to the false doctrines that he brings, wherefore separate 
yourselves from him and hear him not." They would taunt him 
with the words : " Thine own people and kindred should know 
thee best : wherefore do they not believe and follow thee ? " 

But at length the privations endured by Muhammad and his- 
kinsmen enlisted the sympathy of a numerous section of the 
Quraysh and the ban was withdrawn. 

In the same year the loss of Khadijah, the faithful wife who 
for twenty-five years had been his counsellor and support, 
plunged Muhammad into the utmost grief and despondency ; 
and a little later the death of Abu Talib deprived him of his 
constant and most powerful protector and exposed him afresh to 
insult and contumely. 

Scorned and rejected by his own townsmen, to whom he had 
delivered his message with so little success for ten years, he: 
resolved to see if there were not others who might be more ready 
to listen, among whom the seeds of faith might find a more 
receptive and fruitful soil. With this hope he set out for Ta'if, 
a city about sixty miles from Mecca. Before an assembly of the 
chief men of the city, he expounded his doctrine of the unity o 
God and of the mission he had received as the Prophet of God to 
proclaim this faith ; at the same time he besought their protection 
against his persecutors in Mecca. The disproportion between 
his high claims (which moreover were unintelligible to the 
heathen people of Ta'if) and his helpless condition only excited 
their ridicule and scorn, and pitilessly stoning him with stones 
they drove him from their city. 

On his return from Ta'if the prospects of the success of 
Muhammad seemed more hopeless than ever, and the agony of 
his soul gave itself utterance in the words that he puts into 
the mouth of Noah : " O my Lord, verily I have cried to 
my people night and day ; and my cry only makes them flee 
from me the more. 

" And verily, so oft as I cry to them, that Thou mayest forgive 
them, they thrust their fingers into their ears and wrap them- 
selves in their garments, and persist (in their error), and are 
disdainfully disdainful." (lxxi. 5-6.) 

But consolation came to him from an unexpected quarter. 
At the time of the annual pilgrimage he was attracted by a 


little group of six or seven persons whom he recognised as 
coming from Medina, or, as it was then called, Yathrib. u Of 
what tribe are you ? " said he, addressing them. M We are of 
the Khazraj," they answered. " Confederates of the Jews?" 
" Yes." " Then will you not sit down awhile, that I may talk 
with you ? " . " Assuredly," replied they. Then they sat down 
with him, and he proclaimed unto them the true God and 
preached Islam and recited to them the Qur'an. " Now so it 
was, in that God wrought wonderfully for Islam that there 
were found in their country Jews, who possessed scriptures and 
wisdom, while they themselves were heathen and idolators. 
Now the Jews oft times suffered violence at their hands, and 
when strife was between them had ever said to them, " Soon will 
a Prophet arise and his time is at hand ; him will we follow, and 
with him slay you with the slaughter of 'Ad and of Iram." 
When now the apostle of God was speaking with these men and 
preached unto them the true God, they said one to another : 
4t Know surely that this is the Prophet, of whom the Jews have 
warned us ; come let us now make haste and be the first to join 
him." So they believed in what he preached unto them and 
^embraced Islam, and said to him, ' Our countrymen have long 
been engaged in a most bitter and deadly feud with one another ; 
but now perhaps the true God will unite them together through 
thee and thy teaching. Therefore we will preach to them and 
make known to them this religion, that we have received from 
ihee." So, full of faith, they returned to their own country. 

Such is the traditional account of this event which was the 
turning-point of Muhammad's mission. He had now met with a 
people whose antecedents had in some way prepared their minds 
for the reception of his teaching and whose present circumstances, 
as afterwards appeared, were favourable to his cause. 

The city of Yathrib had been long occupied by Jews whom 
some national disaster, possibly the persecution under Hadrian, 
had driven from their own country, when about 300 a.d. a party 
of wandering emigrants, the two Arab clans of Khazraj and Aws, 
arrived at Yathrib and were admitted by alliance to a share in the 
territory. As their numbers increased they encroached more 
and more on the power of the Jewish rulers, and finally, towards 
the end of the fifth century, the government of the city passed 
entirely into their hands. 


Some of the Arabs had embraced the Jewish religion, and many 
of the former masters of the city still dwelt there in the service 
of their conquerors, so that it contained in Muhammad's time a 
considerable Jewish population. The people of Yathrib were 
thus familiar with the idea of a Messiah who was to come, and 
were consequently more capable of understanding the claim of 
Muhammad to be accepted as the Prophet of God, than were the 
idolatrous Meccans to whom such an idea was entirely foreign 
and especially distasteful to the Quraysh, whose supremacy over 
the other tribes and whose worldly prosperity arose from the 
fact that they were the hereditary guardians of the national 
collection of idols kept in the sacred enclosure of the Ka'bah. 

Further, the city of Yathrib was distracted by incessant civil 
discord through a long-standing feud between the Banu Khazraj 
and the Banu Aws. The citizens lived in uncertainty and 
suspense, and anything likely to bind the conflicting parties 
together by a tie of common interest could not but prove a boon 
to the city. Just as the mediaeval republics of Northern Italy 
chose a stranger to hold the chief post in their cities in order to 
maintain some balance of power between the rival factions, and 
prevent, if possible, the civil strife which was so ruinous to com- 
merce and the general welfare, so the Yathribites would not look 
upon the arrival of a stranger with suspicion, even though he 
was likely to usurp or gain permission to assume the vacant 
authority. Deadly jealousy at home had extinguished the 
jealousy of influence from outside, y ' 

These facts go far to explain how eight years after the Hijrah 
Muhammad could, at the head of 10,000 followers, enter the city 
in which he had laboured for ten years with so meagre a result. 

But this is anticipating. Muhammad had proposed to accom- 
pany his new converts, the Khazraj ites, to Yathrib himself, but 
they dissuaded him therefrom, until a reconciliation could be 
effected with the Banu Aws. " Let us, we pray thee, return unto 
our people, if haply the Lord will create peace amongst us ; and 
we will come back again unto thee. Let the season of pilgrimage 
in the following year be the appointed time." So they returned 
to their homes, and invited their people to the faith ; and many 
believed, so that there remained hardly a family in which mention 
was not made of the Prophet. 

When the time of pilgrimage again came round, a deputation 



from Yathrib, ten men of the Banu Khazraj, and two of the Banu 
Aws, met him at the appointed spot and pledged him their word 
to obey his teaching. This, the first pledge of 'Aqabah, so called 
from the secret spot at which they met, ran as follows : " We 
will not worship any but the one God ; we will not steal, neither 
will we commit adultery or kill our children ; we will abstain 
from calumny and slander ; we will obey the Prophet in every 
thing that is right ; and will be faithful to him in weal and woe." 
These twelve men now returned to Yathrib as missionaries of 
Islam, and so well prepared was the ground, and with such zeal 
did they prosecute their mission, that the new faith spread 
rapidly from house to house and from tribe to tribe. 

They were accompanied on their return by Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr ; 
though, according to another account he was sent by the Prophet 
upon a written requisition from Yathrib. This young man had 
been one of the earliest converts, and had lately returned from 
Abyssinia ; thus he had had much experience, and severe training 
in the school of persecution had not only sobered his zeal but 
taught him how to meet persecution and deal with those who were 
ready to condemn Islam without waiting to learn the true contents 
of its teaching ; accordingly Muhammad could with the greatest 
confidence entrust him with the difficult task of directing and 
instructing the new converts, cherishing the seeds of religious 
zeal and devotion that had already been sown and bringing them 
to fruition. Mus'ab took up his abode in the house of As'ad ibn 
Zurarah, and gathered the converts together for prayer and the 
reading of the Qur'an, sometimes here and sometimes in a house 
belonging to the sons of ?afar, which was situated in a quarter of 
the town occupied jointly by this family and that of 'Abdu-1 

The heads of the latter family at that time were Sa'd ibn 
Mu'adh and Usayd ibn Hudayr. One day it happened that 
Mus'ab was sitting together with As'ad in this house of the sons 
of Zafar, engaged in instructing some new converts, when Sa'd 
ibn Mu'idh, having come to know of their whereabouts, said to 
Usayd ibn Hudayr: "Drive out this missionary and his companion 
from our quarter ; I would spare thee the trouble did not the tie 
that binds me and the sons of Zurarah prevent my doing him any 
harm "" (for he himself was the cousin of As'ad). Hereupon 
Usayd took his spear and bursting in upon As'ad and Mus'ab, 


" What are you doing ? " he cried, " leading weak-minded folk 
astray ? If you value your lives, begone hence." " Sit down and 
listen," Mus'ab answered quietly, " if thou hearest what displeases 
thee, we will go away." Usayd stuck his spear in the ground 
and sat down to listen, while Mus'ab expounded to him the 
fundamental doctrines of Islam and read several passages of the 
Qur'an. After a time Usayd enraptured, cried, " What must I 
do to enter this religion ? " " Purify thyself with water," 
answered Mus'ab, " and confess that there is no God but God 
and that Muhammad is the prophet of God." Usayd at once 
complied and repeated the profession of faith, adding, " After me 
you have still another man to convince (referring to Sa'd ibn 
Mu'adh). If he is persuaded, his example will bring after him all 
the tribe of 'Abdu-1 Ashhal. I will send him to you." 

With these words he left them, and soon after came Sa'd ibn 
Mu'adh himself, hot with anger against As'ad : " Wert thou not 
nw cousin, I would make thee repent of thy boldness. What ! 
thou darest bring into the midst of us doctrines that are opposed 
to our religion." Mus'ab begged him not to condemn the new 
faith unheard, so Sa'd agreed to listen and soon the words of 
Mus'ab touched him and brought conviction to his heart, and he 
embraced the faith and became a Muslim. He went back to his 
people burning with zeal and said to them, " Sons of 'Abdu-1 
Ashhal, say, what am I to you ? " " Thou art our lord," they 
answered, " thou art the wisest and most illustrious among us." 
"Then I swear," replied Sa'd, "nevermore to speak to any of 
you until you believe in God and Muhammad, His apostle." 
And from that day, all the descendants of 'Abdu-1 Ashhal 
embraced Islam. 1 

With such zeal and earnestness was the preaching of the faith 
pushed forward that within a year there was not a family among 
the Arabs of Medina that had not given some of its members to 
swell the number of the faithful, with the exception of one branch 
of the Banu Aws, which held aloof under the influence of Abu 
Qays, the poet. 

The following year, when the time of the annual pilgrimage 

again came round, a band of converts, amounting to seventy-three 

in number, accompanied their heathen fellow-countrymen from 

Yathrib to Mecca. They were commissioned to invite Muhammad 

1 Caussin de Perceval. Vol. iii. pp. 3-5. 

C 2 


to take refuge in Yathrib from the fury of his enemies, and had 
come to swear allegiance to him as their prophet and their 
leader. All the early converts who had before met the prophet 
on the two preceding pilgrimages, returned to Mecca on this 
important occasion, and Mus'ab their teacher accompanied them. 
Immediately on his arrival he hurried to the prophet, and told 
him of the success that had attended his mission. It is said that 
his mother, hearing of his arrival, sent a message to him, saying : 
" Ah, disobedient son, wilt thou enter a city in which thy mother 
dwelleth, and not first visit her ? " " Nay, verily," he replied, " I 
will never visit the house of any one before the prophet of God." 
So, after he had greeted and conferred with Muhammad, he went 
to his mother, who thus accosted him : u Then I ween thou art 
still a renegade." He answered, " I follow the prophet of the Lord 
and the true faith of Islam." M Art thou then well satisfied with 
the miserable way thou hast fared in the land of Abyssinia and 
now again at Yathrib ? " Now he perceived that she was medi- 
tating his imprisonment, and exclaimed, " What ! wilt thou force 
a man from his religion ? If ye seek to confine me, I will assuredly 
slay the first person that layeth hands upon me." His mother 
said, " Then depart from my presence," and she began to weep. 
Mu?'ab was moved, and said, " Oh, my mother ! I give thee 
loving counsel. Testify that there is no God but the Lord and 
that Muhammad is His servant and messenger." But she replied, 
" By the sparkling stars ! I will never make a fool of myself by 
entering into thy religion. I wash my hands of thee and thy 
concerns, and cleave steadfastly unto mine own faith." 

In order not to excite suspicion and incur the hostility of the 
Quraysh, a secret meeting was arranged at 'Aqabah, the scene of 
the former meeting with the converts of the year before. 
Muhammad came accompanied only by his uncle 'Abbas, who, 
though he was still an idolater, had been admitted into the secret. 
'Abbas opened the solemn conclave, by recommending his nephew 
as a scion of one of the noblest families of his clan, which had 
hitherto afforded the prophet protection, although rejecting his 
teachings ; but now that he wished to take refuge among the 
people of Yathrib, they should bethink themselves well before 
undertaking such a charge, and resolve not to go back from their 
promise, if once they undertook the risk. Then Bara ibn Ma'rur, 
one of the Banu Khazraj, protesting that they were firm in their 



resolve to protect the Prophet of God, besought him to declare 
fully what he wished of them. 

Muhammad began by reciting to them some portions of the 
Our'an, and exhorted them to be true to the faith they had pro- 
fessed in the one God and the Prophet, His apostle ; he then asked 
them to defend him and his companions from all assailants just as 
they would their own wives and children. Then Bara ibn Ma'rur, 
taking his hand, cried out, " Yea, by Him who sent thee as His 
Prophet, and through thee revealed unto us His truth, we will 
protect thee as we would our own bodies, and we swear allegiance 
to thee as our leader. We are the sons of battle and men of mail, 
which we have inherited as worthy sons of worthy forefathers." 
So they all in turn, taking his hand in theirs, swore allegiance to; 
him. \ff 

As soon as the Quraysh gained intelligence of these secret pro- 
ceedings, the persecution broke out afresh against the Muslims, 
and Muhammad advised them to flee out of the city. " Depart 
unto Yathrib ; for the Lord hath verily given you brethren in 
that city, and a home in which ye may find refuge." So quietly, 
by twos and threes they escaped to Yathrib, where they were 
heartily welcomed, their co-religionists in that city vying with 
one another for the honour of entertaining them, and supplying 
them with such things as they had need of. Within two months 
nearly all the Muslims except those who were seized and im- 
prisoned and those who could not escape from captivity had left 
Mecca, to the number of about 150. There is a story told of one 
of these Muslims, by name Suhayb, whom Muhammad called " the 
first-fruits of Greece " (he had been a Greek slave, and being set 
free by his master had amassed considerable wealth by successful 
trading) ; when he was about to emigrate the Meccans said to 
him, " Thou earnest hither in need and penury ; but thy wealth 
hath increased with us, until thou hast reached thy present 
prosperity ; and now thou art departing, not thyself only, but 
with all thy property. By the Lord, that shall not be ; " and he 
said, "If I relinquish my property, will ye leave me free to 
depart ? " And they agreed thereto ; so he parted with all his 
goods. And when that was told unto Muhammad, he said, 
u Verily, Suhayb hath made a profitable bargain." 

Muhammad delayed his own departure (with the intention, no 
doubt, of withdrawing attention from his faithful followers) until 


a determined plot against his life warned him that further delay 
might be fatal, and he made his escape by means of a stratagem. 

His first care after his arrival in Yathrib, or Medina as it was 
called from this period Madinatu-1 Nabi, the city of the Prophet 
was to build a mosque, to serve both as a place of prayer and of 
general assembly for his followers, who had hitherto met for that 
purpose in the dwelling-place of one of their number. The 
worshippers at first used to turn their faces in the direction of 
Jerusalem an arrangement most probably adopted with the 
hope of gaining over the Jews. In many other ways, by constant 
appeals to their own sacred Scriptures, by according them perfect 
freedom of worship and political equality, Muhammad en- 
deavoured to conciliate the Jews, but they met his advances with 
scorn and derision. When all hopes of amalgamation proved 
fruitless and it became clear that the Jews would not accept him 
as their Prophet, Muhammad bade his followers turn their faces in 
prayer towards the holy Ka'bah in Mecca, (ii. 144.) x 

This change of direction during prayer has a deeper significance 
than might at first sight appear. It was really the beginning of 
the National Life of Islam : it established the Ka'bah at Mecca as 
a religious centre for all the Muslim people, just as from time 
immemorial it had been a place of pilgrimage for all the tribes of 
Arabia. Of similar importance was the incorporation of the 
ancient Arab custom of pilgrimage to Mecca into the circle of 
the religious ordinances of Islam, a duty that was to be performed 
by every Muslim at least once in his lifetime. 

There are many passages in the Qur'an that appeal to this germ 
of national feeling and urge the people of Arabia to realise the 
privilege that had been granted them of a divine revelation in 
their own language and by the lips of one of their own country- 

44 Verily We have made it an Arabic Qur'an that ye may haply 
understand, (xliii. 2-3.) 

44 And thus We have revealed to thee an Arabic Quran, that 
thou mayest warn the mother of cities and those around 
it. (xlii. 5.) 

44 And if We had made it a Qur'an in a foreign tongue, they had 

1 The appointment of the fast of Ramadan (Qur'an ii. 179-184), is doubtless 
another sign of the breaking with the Jews, the fast on the Day of Atonement 
being thus abolished. 


surely said, ' Unless its verses be clearly explained (we will 

not receive it)', (xli. 44.) 
11 And verily We have set before men in this Our 'an every kind 

of parable that haply they be monished : 
" An Arabic Qur'an, free from tortuous (wording), that haply 

they may fear (God), (xxxix. 28-9.) 
" Verily from the Lord of all creatures hath this (book) come 

down, ... in the clear Arabic tongue. (xxvi. 192, 


u And We have only made it (i.e. the Qur an) easy, in thine 
own tongue, in order that thou mayest announce glad 
tidings thereby to the God-fearing, and that thou mayest 
warn the contentious thereby." (xix. 97.) 

But the message of Islam was not for Arabia only ; the whole 
world was to share in it. As_ there was but one God 4 so there 
was to be but one religion into which all men were to be invited. 
This claim to be universal, to hold sway over all men and all 
nations, found a practical illustration in the letters which 
Muhammad sent in the year 628 a.d. (6 a.h.) to the great 
potentates of that time. An invitation to embrace Islam was 
sent in this year to the Emperor Heraclius, the king of Persia, 
the governor of Yaman, the governor of Egypt and the king of 
Abyssinia. The letter to Heraclius is said to have been as 
follows : " In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, 
Muhammad, who is the servant of God and His apostle, to Hiraql 
the Qaysar of Rum. Peace be on whoever has gone on the straight 
road. After this I say, Verily I call you to Islam. Embrace 
Islam, and God will reward you twofold. If you turn away from 
the offer of Islam, then on you be the sins of your people. O 
people of the Book, come towards a creed which is fit both for us 
and for you. It is this to worship none but God, and not to 
associate anything with God, and not to call others God. There- 
fore, O ye people of the Book, if ye refuse, beware. We are 
Muslims and our religion is Islam." However absurd this 
summons may have seemed to those who then received it, suc- 
ceeding years showed that it was dictated by no empty enthu- 
siasm. These letters only gave a more open and widespread 
expression to the claim to the universal acceptance which is 
repeatedly made for Islam in the Qur'an. 

" Of a truth it (i.e. the Qur'an) is no other than an admonition 


to all creatures, and after a time shall ye surely know its 

message, (xxxviii. 87-88.) 
" This (book) is no other than an admonition and a clear 

Qur'an, to warn whoever liveth; and that against the 

unbelievers sentence may be justly given, (xxxvi. 69-70.) 
M And We have not sent thee otherwise than to mankind at 

large, to announce and to warn, (xxxiv. 27.) 
" He it is who hath sent His apostle with guidance and the 

religion of truth, that He may make it victorious over 

every other religion, though the polytheists are averse to 

it." (lxi. 9.) 
In the hour of his deepest despair, when the people of Mecca 
persistently turned a deaf ear to the words of their prophet 
(xvi. 23, 1 14, etc.), when the converts he had made were tortured 
until they recanted (xvi. 108), and others were forced to flee from 
the country to escape the rage of their persecutors (xvi. 43, m) 
then was delivered the promise, " One day we will raise up a 
witness out of every nation." (xvi. 86.) 1 

This claim upon the acceptance of all mankind which the 
Prophet makes in these passages is further prophetically indicated 
in the words " first-fruits of Abyssinia," used by Muhammad in 
reference to Bilal, and " first-fruits of Greece," to Suhayb ; the 
first Persian convert was a Christian slave in Medina, who em- 
braced the new faith in the first year of the Hijrah. Further 
there is a tradition which represents the Prophet as declaring 
China to be within the sphere of his prophetic mission. 3 Thus 
long before any career of conquest was so much as dreamed of, 
the Prophet had clearly shown that Islam was not to be confined 
to the Arab race. The following account of the sending out of 
missionaries to preach Islam to all nations, points to the same 
claim to be a universal religion : " The Apostle of God said to his 
companions, ' Come to me all of you early in the morning.' After 
the morning prayer he spent some time in praising and suppli- 

1 It seems strange that in the face of these passages, some have denied that 
Islam was originally intended by its founder to be a universal religion. Thus Sir 
William Muir says, " That the heritage of Islam is the world, was an afterthought. 
The idea, spite of much prophetic tradition, had been conceived but dimly, if at 
all, by Mahomet himself. His world was Arabia, and for it the new dispensation 
was ordained. From first to last the summons was to Arabs and to none 
other. . . . The seed of a universal creed had indeed been sown ; but that it 
ever germinated was due to circumstance rather than design.'' (The Caliphate, 
PP; 43-4-) 

2 Schefer : Trois Chapitres du Khitay Nameh, p. 31. 


eating God, as was his wont ; then he turned to them and sent "A \f* 
forth some in one direction and others in another, and said : ' Be 
faithful to God in your dealings with His servants (i.e. with men), 
for whosoever is entrusted with any matter that concerns man- 
kind and is not faithful in his service of them, to him God shuts 
the gate of Paradise : go forth and be not like the messengers of 
Jesus, the son of Mary, for they went only to those that lived near \ 
and neglected those that dwelt in far countries.' Then each of 
these messengers came to speak the language of the people to 
whom he was sent. When this was told to the Prophet he said, 
' This is the greatest of the duties that they owe to God with 
respect to His servants.' " l 

And the proof of the universality of Islam, of its claim on the 
acceptance of all men, lay in the fact that it was the religion 
divinely appointed for the whole human race and was now 
revealed to them anew through Muhammad, " the seal of the 
prophets " (xxxiii. "^5), as it had been to former generations by y 
other prophets. 

11 Men were of one religion only : then they disagreed one with 
another and had not a decree (of respite) previously gone 
forth from thy Lord, judgment would surely have been 
given between them in the matter wherein they disagree, 
(x. 20.) 
" I am no apostle of new doctrines, (xlvi. 8.) $ 

" Mankind was but one people : then God raised up prophets , 
to announce glad tidings and to warn : and He sent down 
with them the Book with the Truth, that it might decide 
the disputes of men : and none disagreed save those to 
whom the book had been given, after the clear tokens had 
reached them, through mutual jealousy. And God guided 
those who believed into the truth concerning which they 
had disagreed, by His will ; and God guideth whom He 
pleaseth into the straight path. (ii. 209.) 
" And We revealed to thee, ' follow the religion of Abraham, 
the sound in faith, for he was not of those who join gods 
with God.' (xvi. 124.) 
" Say : As for me, my Lord hath guided me into a straight 
path : a true faith, the religion of Abraham, the sound in 

1 Ibn Sa'd, 10. This story may indeed be apocryphal, but is significant at 
least of the early realisation of the missionary character of Islam. 


faith ; for he was not of those who join gods with God. 
(vi. 162.) 
u Say : Nay, the religion of Abraham, the sound in faith and 
not one of those who join gods with God (is our religion), 
(ii. 129.) 
44 Say : God speaketh truth. Follow therefore the religion of 
Abraham, the sound in faith, who was not one of those 
who joined other gods with God. (iii. 89.) 
M And who hath a better religion than he who resigneth him- 
self to God, who doth what is good and followeth the 
faith of Abraham, the sound in faith ? (iv. 124.) 
" He hath elected you, and hath not laid on you any hardship 
in religion, the faith of your father Abraham. He hath 
named you the Muslims." (xx. 77.) 
But to return to Muhammad in Medina. In order properly to 
appreciate his position after the Flight, it is important to 
remember the peculiar character of Arab society at that time, as 
far at least as this part of the peninsula was concerned. There 
was an entire absence of any organised administrative or judicial 
system such as in modern times we connect with the idea of a 
government. Each tribe or clan formed a sepa rate and absolutely 
i ndependent b ody, and this independence extended itself also to 
the individual members of the tribe, each of whom recognised the 
authority or leadership of his chief only as being the exponent of 
a public opinion which he himself happened to share ; but he 
was quite at liberty to refuse his conformity to the (even) 
unanimous resolve of his fellow clansmen. Further, there w as no 
regular transmission of th e office of chieftain ; but he was 
generally chosen as being the oldest member of the richest and 
most powerful family of the clan, and as being personally most 
qualified to command respect. If such a tribe became too 
numerous, it would split up into several divisions, each of which 
continued to enjoy a separate and independent existence, uniting 
only on some extraordinary occasion for common self-defence 
or some more than usually important warlike expedition. We 
can thus understand how Muhammad could establish himself in 
Medina at the head of a large and increasing body of adherents 
who looked up to him as their head and leader and acknowledged 
no other authority, without exciting any feeling of insecurity, 
or any fear of encroachment on recognised authority, such as 
would have arisen in a city of ancient Greece or any similarly 



organised community. Muhammad thus exercised temporal 
authority over his people just as any other independent chief 
might have done, the only difference being that in the case of 
the Muslims a religious bond took the place of family and 
blood ties. 

Islam thus became what, in theory at least, it has always 
remained a political as well as a religious system. 

u It was Muhammad's desire to found a new religion, and in 
this he succeeded ; but at the same time he founded a political 
system of an entirely new and peculiar character. At first his 
only wish was to convert his fellow-countrymen to the belief in 
the One God Allah ; but along with this he brought about the 
overthrow of the old system of government in his native city, 
and in pflace of the tribal aristocracy under which the conduct of 
public affairs was shared in common by the ruling families, he 
substituted an absolute theocratic monarchy, with himself at the 
head as vicar of God upon earth. 

" Even before his death almost all Arabia had submitted to 
him ; Arabia that had never before obeyed one prince, suddenly 
exhibits a political unity and swears allegiance to the will of an 
absolute ruler. Out of the numerous tribes, big and small, of a 
hundred different kinds that were incessantly at feud with one 
another, Muhammad's word created a nation. The idea of a \ 
com mon religion under one common J iead bound the different | 
tr ibes together into one polit ical organism which developed its 
peculiar characte ristics with surp risin g_ra pidity. Now only"one 
great idea could have produced this result, viz. the principle of 
national life in heathen Arabia. The clan-system was thus for 
the first time, if not entirely crushed (that would have been 
impossible) yet made subordinate to the feeling of religious 
unity. The great work succeeded, and when Muhammad died 
there prevailed over by far the greater part of Arabia a peace of 
God such as the Arab tribes, with their love of plunder and 
revenge, had never known ; it was the religion of Islam that had 
brought about this reconciliation." l 

One of the first cares of Muhammad after his arrival in Medina 
was to give practical expression to this political ideal. He 
estaolished a bond of brotherhood between the Meccan fugitives 
and the Medinite converts. In this bond, clan distinctions were 
obliterated and a common religious life took the place of ties of 
1 A. von Kremer. (3), pp. 309, 310. 


blood. Even in case of death, the claims of relationship were set 
aside and the bond-brother inherited all the property of his 
deceased companion. But after the battle of Badr, when such an 
artificial bond was no longer needed to unite his followers, it was 
abolished ; such an arrangement was only necessary so long as 
the number of the Muslims was still small and the corporate life 
of Islam a novelty, moreover Muhammad had lived in Medina 
for a very short space of time before the rapid increase in the 
number of his adherents made so communistic a social system 
almost impracticable. 

It was only to be expected that the growth of an independent 
political body composed of refugees from Mecca, located in a 
hostile city, should eventually lead to an outbreak of hostilities. 
And, as is well known, every biography of Muhammad is largely 
taken up with the account of a long series of petty encounters 
and bloody battles between his followers and the Quraysh of 
Mecca, ending in his triumphal entry into that city in 630 a.d., 
and of his hostile relations with numerous other tribes, up to the 
time of his death, 633 a.d. 

To give any account of these campaigns is beyond the scope of 
the present work, but it is necessary to determine exactly in what . 
relation they stood to the early missionary life of Islam. It has 
been frequently asserted by European writers that from the date 
of Muhammad's flight to Medina, and from the altered circum- 
stances of his life there, the Prophet appears in an entirely new 
character. He is no longer the preacher, the warner, the apostle 
of God to men, whom he would persuade of the truth of the 
religion revealed to him, but now he appears rather as the 
unscrupulous bigot, using all means at his disposal of force and 
statecraft to assert himself and his opinions. 

But it is false to suppose that Muhammad in Medina laid aside 
his r6U of preacher and missionary of Islam, or that when he had 
a large army at his command, he ceased to invite unbelievers to 
accept the faith. Ibn Sa'd gives a number of letters written by 
the Prophet from Medina to chiefs and other members of different 
Arabian tribes, in addition to those addressed to potentates living 
beyond the limits of Arabia, inviting them to embrace Islam ; 
and in the following pages will be found cases of his having sent 
missionaries to preach the faith to the unconverted members of 
their tribes, whose very ill-success in some cases is a sign of the 



genuinely missionary character of their efforts and the absence of 
an appeal to force. 

In order fully to appreciate his new position, we need to obtain 
some satisfactory answer to the following questions. How far 
was Muhammad himself responsible for the outbreak of hostilities? 
Was he the aggressor or was he the first to be attacked ? 1 And 
further, when hostilities had been begun, was use made of 
the success that attended the Muslim arms, to force the accept- 
ance of Islam on the conquered, or indeed as many have 
maintained was not such forced conversion the very purpose for 
which the Muslims first took up arms at all ? 

The main dispute arises in relation to the circumstances which 
led to the battle of Badr (a.d. 624), the first regular engagement 
in the annals of Islam. 

Let us try to realise these circumstances. 

Here was an exile who, with a small band of devoted companions, 
had taken refuge in a foreign city : a man who for years had 
striven to persuade his fellow-townsmen to adopt a faith that he 
believed to be divinely inspired, with no personal pretensions 
other than that of the truth of the doctrines he taught, "lam 
only a man like you," he would say. '" It is only revealed to me 
that your God is one God : let him then that hopeth to meet his 
Lord work a right work" (xviii. no). Treated at first with 
silent scorn, and afterwards with undisguised contempt, he had to 
submit to insults and contumely of every kind a form of treat- 
ment which increased in virulence day by day, until his per- 
secutors even sought to take his life. It was on his followers 
however that the fury of persecution first spent itself ; twice 
were they compelled to flee for safety across the sea, pursued even 
then by the hatred of their enemies ; many were put to the 
cruellest tortures, under which some succumbed, as martyrs to the 
faith they would not abandon ; and when at length the cruelty of 
their persecutors became no longer bearable and a city was found 
to offer them protection, the Muslims fled to Medina, followed by 
their Prophet, who only by a stratagem succeeded in escaping 
with his life. 

Here their position was by no means free from danger : there 
was no security of freedom from hostility on the part of the 

1 For the defensive character of the first military operations in Medina, see 
C. Snouck Hurgronje, De Islam. (De Gids. Juni 1886, p. 464.) 




Meccans, who had not hesitated to pursue some Medinite converts 
and maltreat one they succeeded in capturing. 1 In the city itself 
they were not altogether among friends ; the Jews who inhabited 
Medina in large numbers, cherished a secret hostility against the 
new Prophet ; and there were many others among the citizens 
who though now indifferent, would naturally turn against the 
new-comers, if their arrival brought upon their city an invasion 
of the Quraysh and threatened it with disaster and ruin. It was 
therefore needful for the Muslims to be on their guard against 
any hostile incursion on the part of the Quraysh. Nor could 
they forget their brethren whom they had been compelled to leave 
behind in Mecca, " the men and women and children who were 
not able through their weakness to find the means of escape " 
(iv. ioo), who left to the mercy of cruel persecutors cried, " O our 
Lord ! bring us forth from this city whose inhabitants are 
oppressors ; give us a champion from Thy presence ; and give us 
from Thy presence a defender." (iv. 77.) 

Accordingly we find mention of several reconnoitring parties 
that went out in small numbers to watch the movements of 
the Quraysh. None of these expeditions, with one exception, 
resulted in bloodshed, and the hostile parties separated after 
a mutual interchange of abuse and self-laudation, in accordance 
with the old Arab custom. But on one occasion (a.h. 2) the 
Prophet had sent 'Abdu-llah ibn Jahsh and a party of eight men, 
with instructions to bring news of the movements of the Quraysh. 
His written orders were, M When you read this letter, march on 
and halt at Nakhlah between Mecca and Ta'if ; there lie in wait 
tar the Quraysh and bring us news of them." Ibn Jahsh inter- 
preted his orders in accordance with the impetuous impulses of 
his own warrior spirit, and returned to Medina with two prisoners 
and the sack of a caravan. In so doing he had not only acted 
without authority but had violated the sacred truce which Arab 
custom caused to be observed throughout the month of pilgrimage. 
Muhammad received him coldly with the words, u I gave thee no 
command to fight in the sacred month ; " dismissed the prisoners, 
and from his own purse paid blood-money for a Meccan who had 
lis life in the fray. 

The facts of the case clearly show that Muhammad had great 

1 In A H. I, one of the Ouraysh chieftains, Kurz ibn Jabir, made a raid upon 
I camels and flocks which were feeding in a plain a few miles Irom Medina. 



difficulty in checking the impetuosity of his Arab followers, with 
their inborn love of fighting and plunder. The contrast drawn 
below between the old and the new ideal of life is proof enough 
of the difficulty of his task, and the frequent admonitions of the 
Qur'an (see iv. 96 ; xvi. 93-96, etc.) bear witness to the same. 
It is failure to realise this fact that has led to the Prophet being 
accused of a deliberate intention of plundering the caravan of 
Abu Sufyan and thus forcing the Meccans to fight the battle of 
Badr. And yet the words of the Qur'an and this, in the face 
of the conflicting testimony of Muhammadan historians, must be 
and is recognised both by European 1 and Asiatic scholars to be 
the true biography of Muhammad present to us the Prophet 
and his followers in antagonism as to what line of action is to be 
taken in view of an impending attack of the Quraysh. a 5. Re- 
member how thy Lord caused thee to go forth from thy home 
(i.e. Medina) in the cause of truth, and verily a part of the 
believers were quite averse to it. 6. They disputed with thee 
about the truth 3 after it had been made clear, as if they were 
being led forth to death and saw it before them. 7. And re- 
member when God promised you that one of the two troops 3 
should fall to you, and ye desired that they who had no arms 
should fall to you ; but God purposed to prove true the truth of 
His words, and to cut off the uttermost part of the unbelievers." 
(viii. 5-7.) 

The two troops here referred to, were on the one hand a richly- 
laden caravan coming from Syria with an escort of thirty or forty 
men, under the leadership of Abu Sufyan, and on the other a 
large army of nearly 1000 men collected by the Quraysh of Mecca, 
with the ostensible purpose of defending the caravan, which they 
had been informed it was Muhammad's intention to attack. 
Historians have generally assumed this rumour to have been true. 
But setting aside the fact that rumours circulated by one party 
respecting the intentions of an opposing party are the last kind of 
statements to be accepted as evidence a consideration of the 
verses quoted above shows the falsity of such a supposition. 

1st. The words of v. 5 would certainly seem to show that when 

1 A. Sprenger, vol. i. p. xv. (Die Hauptquelle flir die Biographie des 
Mohammad ist der Koran.) E. P. Goergens : Mohammad ; ein Charakterbild.. 
(Berlin, 1878), p. 13. 

2 i.e. The necessity for the combat and its probable results. 

3 i.e. The caravan of Abu Sufyan and the army from Mecca. 


the dispute arose the Prophet was still in Medina, and had not 
already marched out to intercept the caravan, as so many 
historians have maintained, and that some of his followers were 
unwilling to follow him in his proposed march to resist the attack 
of the Quraysh. 

2nd. The ground of these persons' opposition to the orders of 
Muhammad was that they felt as if they were being led forth to 
death and saw it before them (viii. 6). The small handful of 
men that formed the escort of Abu Sufyiln's caravan could never 
have inspired such fear. Muhammad then must have called upon 
them to face the invading army of the Quraysh. 

3rd. Had it been his intention to attack the caravan, surely he 
should have gone northwards from Medina, to intercept it on its 
way from Syria ; and not south towards Badr, which was on the 
highroad between Mecca and Medina, and exactly in the direction 
that he would need to take in order to repel the attack of the 
Quraysh who threatened the city of his protectors. 

4th. Had the sole purpose of the Quraysh been the protection 
of the caravan, they would have returned, when on the road they 
heard of its safe arrival in Mecca ; instead of which, they reveal 
their real purpose by pressing on in the direction of Medina. 

This is enough to show that the report brought into Mecca 
that Muhammad was preparing to attack the caravan was quite 
unfounded. The action of some of his followers might well have 
given occasion for such a fear, but the Prophet himself must be 
exonerated from the charge of precipitating the inevitable colli- 
sion with the Quraysh. Even granting that the receipt of this 
rumour was the cause of the expedition from Mecca, still its large 
numbers show that the defence of the caravan was not their main 
object, but that they had designs upon Medina itself. Muhammad 
therefore cannot be blamed for advancing to meet them in defence 
of the city that had given shelter to him and his followers, in 
order to deliver it from the horrors of a siege, from which Medina, 
owing to the peculiar character of the city, would necessarily suffer 
very severely. 1 

If it be further objected that it was inconsistent with his mission 

1 See Wellhauscn : "Medina war ein Komplcx von (lehoften, Dorfern nnd 
festern Hauscrn, die bald nahcr bald weiter von einander entfernt zwischen 
ralmgruppen, Garten und Snatfeldern zertreut lagen ; mehr ein Synoecismus als 
cine Stadt." (Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, vol. iv. p. 4.) 


as a prophet to intermeddle with affairs of war, it must be re- 
membered that it was no part of his teaching to say, 5' My kingdom 
is not of this world." 

It would be beyond the scope of the present work to follow in 
detail the campaigns of the Prophet, and show how forcible con- 
version was in no case the aim that any of them had in view. 
This has already been done with the utmost detail in the work 
from which the above exposition has been taken ; and to this 
work the reader who desires to pursue this subject further, is 
referred. 1 

It is enough here to have shown that Muhammad when he 
found himself at the head of a band of armed followers, was not 
transformed at once, as some would have us believe, from a peace- 
ful preacher into a fanatic, sword in hand, forcing his religion on 
whomsoever he could. 2 But, on the contrary, exactly similar 
efforts were made to preach the faith of Islam and to convert the 
unbelieving Arabs after the Hijrah, as before in the days of 
Muhammad's political weakness ; and in the following pages 
abundant instances of such missionary activity have been 

In the midst of the wars and campaigns into which the hostile 
attitude of the Quraysh had now dragged Muhammad and his 
companions, there was little opportunity for missionary' labours 
except among the inhabitants of Medina itself and those few 
individual Meccans who voluntarily made their way to the 
Prophet. Among the latter was 'Umayr ibn Wahb, who after 
the battle of Badr came to Medina with the intention of assassi- 
nating the Prophet, but was won over to the faith, so that the 
whilom persecutor became one of the most distinguished of his 
disciples. In the fourth year of the Hijrah (625 a.d.) an attempt 
was made to preach Islam to the Banu 'Amir ibn Sa'sa'ah, and at 
the invitation of the chief of this tribe forty Muslims were sent 
into Najd, but they were treacherously murdered and two only 
of the party escaped with their lives. 

1 Sayyid Ahmad Khan : Tafslru-l Qur'an. Vol. iv. (In vol. vi. part I. of 
Tasanlf Ahmadlyah.) (Aligarh, 18S8.) 

1 This would seem to be acknowledged even by Muir, when speaking of the ->^ 
massacre of the Banu Qurayzah (a.h. 6) : M The ostensible grounds upon which 
Mahomet proceeded were purely political, for as yet he did not profess to force 
men to join Islam, or to punish them for not embracing it." Muir (2), rol. iii. 
p. 282. 



The successes of the Muslim arms, however, attracted every 
day members of various tribes, particularly those in the vicinity 
of Medina, to swell the ranks of the followers of the Prophet ; 
and " the courteous treatment which the deputations of these 
various clans experienced from the Prophet, his ready attention 
to their grievances, the wisdom with which he composed their 
disputes, and the politic assignments of territory by which he 
rewarded an early declaration in favour of Islam, made his name 
to be popular, and spread his fame as a great and generous prince 
throughout the Peninsula." x 

It not unfrequently happened that one member of a tribe would 
come to the Prophet in Medina and return home as a missionary 
of Islam to convert his brethren ; we have the following account 
by an eye-witness of such a conversion in the year 5 (a.h.). 
11 One day as we were sitting together in the mosque, a Bedouin 
came riding up on a camel ; he made it kneel down in the court- 
yard of the mosque and tied it up. Then he came near to us and 
asked, ' Is Muhammad among you ? ' We answered, ' He is the 
man with his elbows resting on the cushions.' ' Art thou the son 
of Abu-1 Muftalib ? ' he asked. ' I am,' replied the Prophet. I 
trust thou wilt take no offence at my asking thee some questions.' 

* Ask whatever thou wilt,' answered the Prophet. Then he said, 
1 1 adjure thee by the Lord and the Lord of those who were before 
thee, tell me, has Allah sent thee to all men ? ' Muhammad 
answered, ' Yea, by Allah.' The other continued, ' I adjure thee 
by Allah, tell me, hath He commanded thee that men should fast 
during this month ? ' Muhammad answered, * Yea, by Allah.' 

* I adjure thee by Allah, hath He commanded thee that thou 
shouldest take tithes from the rich, to distribute among the 
poor ? ' Muhammad answered again, ' Yea, by Allah.' Then 
said the stranger, ' I believe on the revelation thou hast brought. 
I am pimam ibn Tha'labah, and am the messenger of my tribe.' 
So he returned to his tribe and converted them to Islam." 2 
Another such missionary was l Amr ibn Murrah, belonging to the 
tribe of the Banu Juhaynah, who dwelt between Medina and the 
Red Sea. The date of his conversion was prior to the Flight, 
and he thus describes it : " We had an idol that we worshipped, 
and I was the guardian of its shrine. When I heard of the 
Prophet, I broke it in pieces and set off to Muhammad in Mecca, 

1 Muir (a), vol. iv. pp. 107-8. 2 Sprenger, vol. iii. pp. 202-3. 



where I accepted Islam and bore witness to the truth, and 
believed on what Muhammad declared to be allowed and for- 
bidden. And to this my verses refer : ' I bear witness that God is 
Truth and that I am the first to abandon the gods of stones, and I 
have girded up my loins to make my way to you over rough ways 
and smooth, to join myself to him who in himself and for his 
ancestry is the noblest of men, the apostle of the Lord whose 
throne is above the clouds.' " He was sent by Muhammad to 
preach Islam to his tribe, and his efforts were crowned with such 
success that there was only one man who refused to listen to his 
exhortations. 1 

When the truce of Hudaybiyah (a.h. 6) made friendly relations 
with the people of Mecca possible, many persons of that city, who 
had had the opportunity of listening to the teaching of Muhammad 
in the early days of his mission, and among them some men of 
great influence, came out to Medina, to embrace the faith of 

The continual warfare carried on with the people of Mecca had 
hitherto kept the tribes to the south of that city almost entirely 
outside the influence of the new religion. But this truce now 
made communications with southern Arabia possible, and a small 
band from the tribe of the Banu Daws came from the mountains 
that form the northern boundary of Yaman, and joined them- 
selves to the Prophet in Medina. Even before the appearance of 
Muhammad, there were some members of this tribe who had had 
glimmerings of a higher religion than the idolatry prevailing 
around them, and argued that the world must have nad a creator, 
though they knew not who he was ; and when Muhammad came 
forward as the apostle of this creator, one of these men, by name 
Tufayl, came to Mecca to learn who the creator was. He recited 
to Muhammad some of his own poems ; whereupon the Prophet 
repeated the three last Surahs of the Qur'an, and finally won him 
over to Islam. He then laid on the new convert the task of 
returning to his own people and of preaching to them Islam. At 
first, Tufayl met with but little success, and few persons were per- 
suaded except his father, his wife, and some of his friends who 
had before sympathized with him in his search after religious 
truth. Disheartened at the ill-success of his mission, he returned 
to the Prophet, and said, " The Banu Daws are a stiff-necked 
1 IbnSa'd, Ii8. 
D 2 




people ; let thy curse fall upon them." But Muhammad prayed, 
" O God, guide the Banu Daws into the true path," and sent 
Tufayl back again to commence anew his missionary labours. 
One of his friends now assisted him in his efforts, and they went 
from house to house, preaching the faith, and by a.h. 6 they 
succeeded in converting a great part of the tribe. Two years 
later, the whole tribe abandoned their idolatrous beliefs, and 
united themselves to the Muslims, while Tufayl set fire to the 
block of wood that had hitherto been venerated as the idol of the 
tribe. 1 

In a.h. 7, fifteen more tribes submitted to the Prophet, and 
after the surrender of Mecca in a.h. 8, the ascendancy of Islam 
was assured, and those Arabs who had held aloof, saying, " Let 
Muhammad and his fellow-tribesmen fight it out ; if he is vic- 
torious, then is he a genuine prophet," 2 now hastened to give in 
their allegiance to the new religion. Among those who came in 
after the fall of Mecca, were some of the most bitter persecutors of 
Muhammad in the earlier days of his mission, to whom his noble 
forbearance and forgiveness now gave a place in the brotherhood 
of Islam. This same year witnessed the martyrdom of 'Urwah 
ibn Mas'ud, one of the principal chiefs of the people of Ta'if, 
which city the Muslims had unsuccessfully attempted to capture. 
He had been absent at that time in Yaman, and returned from 
his journey shortly after the raising of the siege. He had met 
the Prophet two years before at Hudaybiyah, and had conceived 
a profound veneration for him, and now came to Medina to 
embrace the new faith. In the ardour of his zeal he offered to 
go to Ta'if to convert his fellow-countrymen, and in spite of the 
efforts of Muhammad to dissuade him from so dangerous an 
undertaking, he returned to his native city, publicly declared 
that he had renounced idolatry, and called upon the people to 
follow his example. While he was preaching, he was mortally 
wounded by an arrow, and died giving thanks to God for having 
granted him the glory of martyrdom. A more successful mis- 
sionary effort was made by another follower of the Prophet in 
Yaman probably a year later of which we have the following 
graphic account : " The apostle of God wrote to Al Harith and 
Masruh, and Nu'aym ibn 'Abdi Kulal of Himyar : ' Peace be 

1 Sprenger, vol. iii. pp. 255-6. m 

3 Al Bukh*r' quoted by A. von Kremer. (3) p. 315. 


upon you so long as ye believe on God and His apostle. God is 
one God, there is no partner with Him. He sent Moses with his 
signs, and created Jesus with his words. The Jews say, u Ezra is 
the Son of God," and the Christians say, " God is one of three, 
and Jesus is the Son of God." ' He sent the letter by 'Ayyash 
ibn Abi Rabl'ati-l MakhzumI, and said : ' When you reach their 
city, go not in by night, but wait until the morning ; then care- 
fully perform your ablutions, and pray with two prostrations, and 
ask God to bless you with success and a friendly reception, and to 
keep you safe from harm. Then take my letter in your right 
hand, and deliver it with your right hand into their right hands, 
and they will receive it. And recite to them, M The unbelievers 
among the people of the Book and the polytheists did not waver," 
&c. (Surah 98) to the end of the Surah ; when you have finished, 
say, " Muhammad has believed, and I am the first to believe." 
And you will be able to meet every objection they bring against 
you, and every glittering book that they recite to you will lose its 
light. And when they speak in a foreign tongue, say, " Translate 
it," and say to them, " God is sufficient for me ; I believe in the 
Book sent down by Him, and I am commanded to do justice 
among you ; God is our Lord and your Lord ; to us belong our 
works, and to you belong your works ; there is no strife between 
us and you ; God will unite us, and unto Him we must return." 
If they now accept Islam, then ask them for their three rods, 
before which they gather together to pray, one rod of tamarisk 
that is spotted white and yellow, and one knotted like a cane, and 
one black like ebony. Bring the rods out and burn them in the 
market-place.' So I set out," tells 'Ayyash, " to do as the Apostle 
of God had bid me. When I arrived, I found that all the people 
had decked themselves out for a festival : I walked on to see 
them, and came at last to three enormous curtains hung in front 
of three doorways. I lifted the curtain and entered the middle 
door, and found people collected in the courtyard of the building. 
I introduced myself to them as the messenger of the Apostle of 
God, and did as he had bidden me ; and they gave heed to my 
words, and it fell out as he had said." 1 

In a.h. 9, a less successful attempt was made by a new convert, 
Wathilah ibnu-1 Asqa', to induce his clan to accept the faith that 
he himself had embraced after an interview with the Prophet. His 
1 Ibn Sa'd, 56. 


father scornfully cast him off, saying, " By God ! I will never speak 
a word to you again," and none were found willing to believe the 
doctrines he preached with the exception of his sister, who pro- 
vided him with the means of returning to the Prophet at Medina. 1 
This minth year of the Hijrah has been called the year of the 
deputations, because of the enormous number of Arab tribes and 
cities that now sent delegates to the Prophet, to give in their 
submission. The introduction into Arab society of a new prin- 
ciple of social union in the brotherhood of Islam had already 
begun to weaken the binding force of the old tribal ideal, that 
erected the fabric of society on the basis of blood-relationship. 
The conversion of an individual and his reception into the new 
society was a breach of one of the most fundamental laws of Arab 
life, and its frequent occurrence had acted as a powerful solvent 
on tribal organisation and had left it weak in the face of a national 
life so enthusiastic and firmly-knit as that of the Muslims had 
become. The A rab tribes were thus impelled to give in their 
su bmission to the prophet, not merely_as the head of the strongest 
military force _ in Arabia, but as the exponent of a theory of social 
life~tn"at was ma king all othe rs weak and ineffective. 2 In this way, 
Islam was uniting together clans that hitherto had been continu- 
ally at feud with one another, and as this great confederacy grew, 
it more and more attracted to itself the weaker among the tribes 
of Arabia. In the accounts of the conversion of the Arab tribes, 
there is continual mention of the promise of security against their 
enemies, made to them by the Prophet on the occasion of their 
submission. " Woe is me for Muhammad ! " was the cry of one of 
the Arab tribes on the news of the death of the Prophet. u So 
long as he was alive, I lived in peace and in safety from my 
enemies ; " and the cry must have found an echo far and wide 
throughout Arabia. v 

How superficial was the adherence of numbers of the Alab 
tribes to the faith of Islam may be judged from the widespread 
apostacy that followed immediately on the death of the Prophet. 
Their acceptance of Islam would seem to have been often 
dictated more by considerations of political expediency, and was 
more frequently a bargain struck under pressure of violence 
than the outcome of any enthusiasm or spiritual awakening. 
They allowed themselves to be swept into the stream of what 
1 Ibn Sa'd, 91. 3 See Sprenger, voL iii. pp. 360-1. 



had now become a great national movement, and we miss the 
fervent zeal of the early converts in the cool, calculating atti- 
tude of those who came in after the fall of Mecca. But even 
from among these must have come many to swell the ranks of 
the true believers animated with a genuine zeal for the faith, and 
ready, as we have seen, to give their lives in the effort to preach 
it to their brethren. But for such men as these, so vast a move- 
ment could not have held together, much less have recovered 
the shock given it by the death of the founder. For it must not 
be forgotten how distinctly Islam was a new movement in heathen 
Arabia, and how diametrically opposed were the ideals of the two, 
societies. 1 For the introduction of Islam into Arab society did 
not imply merely the sweeping away of a few barbarous and 
inhuman practices, but a complete reversal of the pre-existing 
ideals of life. 

Herein we have the most conclusive proof of the essentially 
missionary character of the teaching of Muhammad, who thus 
comes forward as the exponent of a new scheme of faith and 
practice. Auguste Comte has laid down the distinction between 
the genius that originates a movement, the energy of whose 
spirit keeps it alive, and the man that is merely the mouthpiece 
of the aspirations and feelings of his generation. M Sometimes 
the individual comes first, fixes his mind on a determinate 
purpose, and then gathers to himself the various partial forces 
that are necessary to achieve it. More often in the case of great l 
social movements, there is a spontaneous convergence of many 
particular tendencies, till, finally, the individual appears who 
gives them a common centre, and binds them into one whole." a ' 
Now it has frequently been contended that Muhammad belongs 
to the latter class, and just as Positivism has tried to put forward 
St. Paul in place of Jesus as the founder of Christianity, so some 
look upon 'Umar as the energising spirit in the early history of 
Islam, and would represent Muhammad merely as the mouthpiece 
of a popular movement. Now this could only have been possible 
on condition that Muhammad had found a state of society pre- 
pared to receive his teaching and waiting only for the voice that 
would express in speech the inarticulate yearnings of their hearts. 

1 This has been nowhere more fully and excellently brought out than in the 
scholarly work of Prof. Ignaz Goldziher (Muhammedanische Studien, vol. i.) 
from which I have derived the following considerations. 

2 Edward Caird : The Social Philosophy of Comte, pp. 42-3. (Glasgow, 1885.) 


But it is just this spirit of expectancy that is wanting among the 
Arabs those at least of Central Arabia, towards whom 
Muhammad's efforts were at first directed. They were by no 
means ready to receive the preaching of a new teacher, least of 
all one who came with the (to them unintelligible) title of apostle 
of God. 

Again, the equality in Islam of all believers and the common 
brotherhood of all Muslims, which suffered no distinctions between 
Arab and non-Arab, between free and slave, to exist among the 
faithful, was an idea that ran directly counter to the proud clan- 
feeling of the Arab, who grounded his claims to personal con- 
sideration on the fame of his ancestors, and in the strength of the 
same carried on the endless blood-feuds in which his soul 
delighted. Indeed, the fundamental principles in the teaching 
of Muhammad were a protest against much that the Arabs had 
hitherto most highly valued, and the newly-converted Muslim 
was taught to consider as virtues, qualities which hitherto he had 
looked down upon with contempt. 

To the heathen Arab, friendship and hostility were as a loan 
which he sought to repay with interest, and he prided himself on 
returning evil for evil, and looked down on any who acted other- 
wise as a weak nitherling. 

He is the perfect man who late and early plotteth still 
To do a kindness to his friends and work his foes some ill. 

To such men the Prophet said, " Recompense evil with that 
which is better " (xxiii. 98) ; as they desired the forgiveness of 
God, they were to pass over and pardon offences (xxiv. 22), and 
a Paradise, vast as the heavens and the earth, was prepared for 
those who mastered their anger and forgave others (iii. 128). 

The very institution of prayer was jeered at by the Arabs 
to whom Muhammad first delivered his message, and one of the 
hardest parts of his task was to induce in them that pious attitude 
of mind towards the Creator, which Islam inculcates equally with 
Judaism and Christianity, but which was practically unknown to 
the heathen Arabs. This self-sufficiency and this lack of the 
religious spirit, joined with their intense pride of race, little fitted 
them to receive the teachings of one who maintained that " The 
most worthy of honour in the sight of God is he that feareth Him 
most" (xlix. 13). No more could they brook the restrictions 
that Islam sought to lay upon the license of their lives ; wine, 



women, and song were among the things most dear to the 
Arab's heart in the days of the ignorance, and the Prophet was 
stern and severe in his injunctions respecting each of them. 

Thus, from the very beginning, Islam bears the stamp of a 
missionary religion that seeks to win the hearts of men, to convert 
them and persuade them to enter the brotherhood of the faithful; 
and as it was in the beginning, so has it continued to be up to 
the present day, as will be the object of the following pages to 



After the death of Muhammad, the army he had intended for 
Syria was despatched thither by Abu Bakr, in spite of the pro- 
testations made by certain Muslims in view of the then disturbed 
state of Arabia. He silenced their expostulations with the words: 
" I will not revoke any order given by the Prophet. Medina may 
become the prey of wild beasts, but the army must carry out the 
wishes of Muhammad." This was the first of that wonderful 
series of campaigns in which the Arabs overran Syria, Persia and 
Northern Africa overturning the ancient kingdom of Persia and 
despoiling the Roman Empire of some of its fairest provinces. It 
does not fall within the scope of this work to follow the history of 
these different campaigns, but, in view of the missionary success 
that attended the Arab conquests, it is of importance to discover 
what were the circumstances that made such successes possible. 

A great historian J has well put the problem that meets us here, 
in the following words : "Was it genuine religious enthusiasm, 
the new strength of a faith now for the first time blossoming forth 
in all its purity, that gave the victory in every battle to the arms 
of the Arabs and in so incredibly short a time founded the 
greatest empire the world had ever seen ? But evidence is 
wanting to prove that this was the case. The number was far too 
small of those who had given their allegiance to the Prophet and 
his teaching with a free and heartfelt conviction, while on the 
other hand all the greater was the number of those who had been 
brought into the ranks of the Muhammadans only through 
pressure from without or by the hope of worldly gain. Khalid, 
* that sword of the swords of God,' exhibited in a very striking 
manner that mixture of force and persuasion whereby he and 

1 D611inger/pp. 5-6. 




many of the Quraysh had been converted, when he said that God 
had seized them by the hearts and by the hair and compelled 
them to follow the Prophet. Th e proud feelingLtPQ of a_c ommon 
na tionality had much influence a feeling which was more alive 
among the Arabs of that time than (perhaps) among any other 
people, and which alone determined many thousands to give the 
preference to their countryman and his religion before foreign 
teachers. StilLmore powerful was t he attraction offered by the 
s ure prospect of gaining booty in abundance, in fighting for the 
new religion and of exchanging their bare, stony deserts, which 
offered them only a miserable subsistence, for the fruitful and 
luxuriant countries of Persia, Syria and Egypt." But history 
gives us several other examples of peoples (e.g. the Huns and the 
Vandals) who poured out from the East to sack and plunder, 
driven on not only by greed and pride of race but also by famine 
and the pressure of want at home. Yet which of these founded 
such a world-empire as that of the Arabs, which of them succeeded 
in the same way in amalgamating and uniting to themselves the 
subject races they had conquered ? Can a study of the Muham- 
madan conquests fail to show us how large a measure of their 
success was due to the marvellous enthusiasm that had its root in 
their religion and in their religion alone t heir confidence in th e 
t ruth of the new faith and its promises of reward here and 
her eafter , together with the practical realisation of its teaching of 
the brotherhood of all believers ? There may have been many in 
whom worldly motives obscured these lofty views, but still it was 
the faithful few who set the tone for the society as a whole. As 
the late Archbishop of Dublin has eloquently said : " Not Kaled 
alone, but every Moslem warrior felt himself indeed to be ' the 
sword of God.' Comparing what they now were with what they 
had been in ' those times of their ignorance/ when they wor- 
shipped dead idols, they felt that they had been brought into a 
new spiritual world, now at length had learned what was the 
glory and dignity of man, namely, to be the servant of the one 
God, maker and ruler of all ; that such servants they were ; whose 
office it was to proclaim His power ; themselves submitting, and 
compelling others to submit to His will. What a truth was here, 
to have taken possession of a multitude of souls ! No wonder 
that, in the strength of this, innumerable tribes which had 
hitherto done little but mutually bite and devour one another, 


were presently knit together into a nation, and the worshippers 
of a thousand discordant falsehoods into a society which bore some 
sort of similitude to a Church." * 

Accordingly it is not surprising to find that many of the 
Christian Bedouins were swept into the rushing tide of this great 
movement and that Arab tribes, who for centuries had professed 
the Christian religion, now abandoned it to embrace the Muslim 
faith. Among these was the tribe of the Banu Ghassan, who 
held sway over the desert east of Palestine and southern Syria, of 
whom it was said that they were "Lords in the days of the 
ignorance and stars in Islam." 2 

After the battle of Qadisiyah (a.h. 14) in which the Persian 
army under Rustam had been utterly discomfited, many Christians 
belonging to the Bedouin tribes on both sides of the Euphrates 
came to the Muslim general and said : *' The tribes that at the 
first embraced Islam were wiser than we. Now that Rustam 
hath been slain, we will accept the new belief." 3 Similarly, after 
the conquest of northern Syria, most of the Bedouin tribes, after 
hesitating a little, joined themselves to the followers of the 
Prophet. 4 

That force was not the determining factor in these conversions 
may be judged from the amicable relations that existed between 
the Christian and the Muslim Arabs. Muhammad himself had 
entered into treaty with several Christian tribes, promising 
them his protection and guaranteeing them the free exercise of 
their religion and to their clergy undisturbed enjoyment of their 
old rights and authority. 6 A similar bond of friendship united 
his followers with their fellow-countrymen of the older faith, many 
of whom voluntarily came forward to assist the Muslims in their 
military expeditions. 

In the battle of the Bridge (a.h. 13) when a disastrous defeat 
was imminent and the panic-stricken Arabs were hemmed in 
between the Euphrates and the Persian host, a Christian chief of 
the Banu Tayy, sprang forward like another Spurius Lartius to 
the side of an Arab Horatius, to assist Muthannah the Muslim 
general in defending the bridge of boats which could alone afford 

1 Lectures on Mediaeval Church History, by Richard Chenevix Trench, 
p 52. (London, 1879.) 

2 Mas'udT, tome iv. p. 238. 3 Muir's Caliphate, pp. 121-2. 

' Id. p. 139. * Muir (2), vol. ii. pp. 299, 303. 


the means of an orderly retreat. When fresh levies were raised 
to retrieve this disgrace, among the reinforcements that came 
pouring in from every direction was a Christian tribe of the Banu 
Namir, who dwelt within the limits of the Byzantine empire, and 
in the ensuing battle of Buwayb (a.h. 13), just before the final 
charge of the Arabs that turned the fortune of battle in their 
favour, Muthannah rode up to the Christian chief and said : " Ye 
are of one blood with us ; come now, and as I charge, charge ye 
with me." The Persians fell back before their furious onslaught, 
and another great victory was added to the glorious roll of 
Muslim triumphs. One of the most gallant exploits of the day 
was performed by a youth belonging to another Christian tribe of 
the desert, who with his companions, a company of Bedouin 
horse-dealers, had come up just as the Arab army was being 
drawn up in battle array. They threw themselves into the fight 
on the side of their compatriots ; and while the conflict was 
raging most fiercely, this youth, rushing into the centre of the 
Persians, slew their leader, and leaping on his richly-caparisoned 
horse, galloped back amidst the plaudits of the Muslim line, 
crying as he passed in triumph : "I am of the Banu Taghlib. I 
am he that hath slain the chief." 1 

The tribe to which this young man boasted that he belonged, 
was one of those that elected to remain Christian, while other 
Bedouin tribes of Mesopotamia, such as the Banu Namir and the 
Bami Quda'ah, became Musalmans. 

The Caliph 'Umar forbade any pressure to be put upon them, 
when they showed themselves unwilling to abandon their old 
faith, and ordered that they should be left undisturbed in the 
practice of it, but that they were not to oppose the conversion of 
any member of their tribe to Islam nor baptise the children of 
such as became Muslims. 3 They were called upon to pay the 
jizyah or tax imposed on the Christian subjects, but they felt it to 
be humiliating to their pride to pay a tax that was levied in return 

(f or protection of life and propert y J and petitioned the Caliph to 
be allowed to make the same kind of contribution as the Muslims 
did. So in lieu of the jizyah t hey paid a double Sadqah or alms, 
^ which was a poor tax levied on the fields and cattle, etc. of the 
Musalmans. 3 

1 Muir's Caliphate, pp. 90-94. 2 Tabarl, Prima Series, p. 2482. 

3 The few meagre notices of this tribe in the works of Arabic historians have 


The people of Hirah had likewise resisted all the efforts made 
by Khalid to induce them to accept the Muslim faith. This city 
was one of the most illustrious in the annals of Arabia, and to the 
mind of the impetuous hero of Islam it seemed that an appeal to 
their Arab blood would be enough to induce them to enrol them- 
selves with the followers of the Prophet of Arabia. When the 
besieged citizens sent an embassy to the Muslim general to 
arrange the terms of the capitulation of their city, Khalid asked 
them, " Who are you ? are you Arabs or Persians ? " Then 
'Adi, the spokesman of the deputation, replied, "Nay, we are 
pure-blooded Arabs, while others among us are naturalised 
Arabs." Kb. " Had you been what you say you are, 
you would not have opposed us or hated our cause." 
'A. " Our pure Arab speech is the proof of what I say." 
Kh. " You speak truly. Now choose you one of these three 
things : either (i) accept our faith, then all that is ours shall be 
yours, for weal or woe, whether you choose to go into another 
country or stay in your own land ; or (2) pay jizyah ; or (3) 
fight. Verily, by God ! I have come to you with a people who 
are more desirous of death than you are of life." 'A. " Nay, 
we will pay jizyah." Kh. " Ill-luck to you ! Unbelief is a 
pathless wilderness, and foolish is the Arab who, when two 
guides meet him wandering therein the one an Arab and the 
other not leaves the first and accepts the guidance of the 
stranger." * 

Due provision was made for the instruction of the new converts, 
for while whole tribes were being converted to the faith with such 
rapidity, it was necessary to take precautions against errors, both 
in respect of creed and ritual, such as might naturally be feared 
in the case of ill-instructed (converts. Accordingly we find that 
the Caliph 'Umar appointed teachers in every country, whose 
duty it was to instruct the people in the teachings of the Qur'an 
and the observances of their new faith. The magistrates were 
also ordered to see that all, whether old or young, were regular 
in their attendance at public prayer, especially on Fridays and in 
the month of Ramadan. The importance attached to this work 
of instructing the new converts may be judged from the fact that 

been admirably summarized by Pere Henri Lammens, S. J. (" Le Chantre des 
Omiades.") (J. A. IX m serie, tome iv. pp. 97.9, 438-59-) 
1 Tabarl, Prima Series, p. 2041. 



in the city of Kufah it was no less a personage than the state 
treasurer who was entrusted with this task. 1 

From the examples given above of the toleration extended 
towards the Christian Arabs by the victorious Muslims of the first 
century of the Hijrah and continued by succeeding generations, 
we may surely infer that those Christian tribes that did embrace 
Islam, did so of their own choice and free will. The Christian 
Arabs of the present day, dwelling in the midst of a Muhammadan 
population, are a living testimony of this toleration ; Layard 
speaks of having come across an encampment of Christian Arabs 
at Kerak, to the east of the Dead Sea, who differed in no way, 
either in dress or in manners, from the Muslim Arabs. 3 Burck- 
hardt was told by the monks of Mount Sinai that in the last 
century there still remained several families of Christian Bedouins 
who had not embraced Islam, and that the last of them, an old 
woman, died in 1750, and was buried in the garden of the con- 
vent. 3 The village of Quraytayn, in the desert, twenty-four hours' 
journey south-west of Palmyra, has a population of 1200 souls, 
half of whom are Syrian Christians, living in perfect harmony 
with their Muslim neighbours and wearing, like them, the 
Bedouin dress, so that there is no outward distinction between 
Christian and Muslim. 4 Many of the Arabs of the renowned 
tribe of the Banu Grhassan, Arabs of the purest blood, who em- 
braced Christianity towards the end of the fourth century, still 
retain the Christian faith, and since their submission to the 
Church of Rome, about two centuries ago, employ the Arabic 
language in their religious services. 5 

If we turn from the Bedouins to consider the attitude of the 
settled populations of the towns and cities towards the new 
religion, we do not find that the Arab conquest was so rapidly 
followed by conversions to Islam. The Christians of the great 
cities of the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire seem for 
the most part to have remained faithful to their ancestral creed, 
to which indeed they still in large numbers cling. 

In order that we may fully appreciate their condition under the 
Muslim rule, and estimate the influences that led to occasional 

1 Mas'udi, tome iv. p. 256. 

2 Sir Henry Layard: Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana and Babylonia, 
vol. i. p. ioo. (London, 1887.) 

3 Burckhardt. (2), p. 564. 4 A. von Kremer. (4), p. 91. 

5 W. G. Palgrave : Essays on Eastern Questions, pp. 206-8. (London, 1872.) 


conversions, it will be well briefly to sketch their situation under 
the Christian rule of the Byzantine Empire, that fell back before 
the Arab arms. 

A hundred years before, Justinian had succeeded in giving 
some show of unity to the Roman Empire, but after his death it 
rapidly fell asunder, and at this time there was an entire want of 
common national feeling between the provinces and the seat of 
government. Heraclius had made some partially successful 
efforts to attach Syria again to the central government, but un- 
fortunately the general methods of reconciliation which he adopted 
had served only to increase dissension instead of allaying it. 
Religious passions were the only existing substitute for national 
feeling, and he tried, by propounding an exposition of faith, that 
was intended to serve as an eirenicon, to stop all further disputes 
between the contending factions and unite the heretics to the 
orthodox church and to the central government. The Council of 
Chalcedon (451) had maintained that Christ was "to be acknow- 
ledged in two natures, without confusion, change, division, or 
separation ; the difference of the natures being in nowise taken 
away by reason of their union, but rather the properties of each 
nature being preserved, and concurring into one person and one 
substance, not as it were divided or separated into two persons, 
but one and the same Son and only begotten, God the Word." 
This council was rejected by the Monophysites, who only allowed 
one nature in the person of Christ, who was said to be a composite 
person, having all attributes divine and human, but the substance 
bearing these attributes was no longer a duality, but a composite 
unity. The controversy between the orthodox party and the 
Monophysites, who flourished particularly in Egypt and Syria 
and in countries outside the Byzantine Empire, had been hotly 
contested for nearly two centuries, when Heraclius sought to 
effect a reconciliation by means of the doctrine of Monotheletism : 
while conceding the duality of the natures, it secured unity of the 
person in the actual life of Christ, by the rejection of two series of 
activities in this one person ; the one Christ and Son of God effec- 
tuates that which is human and that which is divine by one divine 
human agency, i.e. there is only one will in the Incarnate Word. 1 

1 I.A.Domer: A System of Christian Doctrine, vol. iii. p. 215-216. (Lond. 1885.) 
J. C. Robertson : History of the Christian Church, vol. ii. p. 226. (Lond. 1875.) 


But Heraclius shared the fate of so many would-be peace- 
makers : for not only did the controversy blaze up again all the 
more fiercely, but he himself was stigmatised as a heretic and 
drew upon himself the wrath of both parties. 

Indeed, so bitter was the feeling he aroused that there is strong 
reason to believe that even a majority of the orthodox subjects of 
the Roman Empire, in the provinces that were conquered during 
this emperor's reign, were the well-wishers of the Arabs ; they 
regarded the emperor with aversion as a heretic, and were afraid 
that he might commence a persecution in order to force upon 
them his Monotheletic opinions. 1 They therefore readily and 
even eagerly received the new masters who promised them 
religious toleration, and were willing to compromise their religious 
position and their national independence if only they could free 
themselves from the immediately impending danger. The people 
of Emessa closed the gates of their city against the army of 
Heraclius and told the Muslims that they preferred their govern- 
ment and justice to the injustice and oppression of the Greeks. 2 

Such was the state of feeling in Syria during the campaign of 
633-9 m which the Arabs gradually drove the Roman army out 
of the province. And when Damascus, in 637, set the example of 
making terms with the Arabs, and thus secured immunity from 
plunder and other favourable conditions, the rest of the cities of 
Syria were not slow to follow. Emessa, Arethusa, Hieropolis 
and other towns entered into treaties whereby they became 
tributary to the Arabs. Even the patriarch of Jerusalem surren- 
dered the city on similar terms. The iear x>f-religious_compulsion 
on the part of the heretical emperor made the promise of Muslim 
toleration appear more attractive than the connection with the 
Roman empire and a Christian government. Further, the _self- 
restraint of the. conquerors and the humanity which they displayed 
in their campaigns, must have excited profound respect 3 and 
secured a welcome for an invading army that was guided by such 
principles of justice and moderation as were laid down by the 

1 That such fears were not wholly groundless may be judged from the Emperor's 
intolerant behaviour towards many of the Monophysite party in his progress 
through Syria after the defeat of the Persians in 627. (See Michel le Grand, 
p. 227.) 

2 Al Baladhuri, p. 137. 

3 For the outrages committed by the Byzantine soldiers, on the other hand, on 
their co-religionists in Cappadocia, in the reign of Constans II. (642.668), see 
Michel le Grand, p. 234. 


Caliph Abu Bakr for the guidance of the first expedition into 
Syria : M Be just ; break not your plighted faith ; mutilate none ; 
slay neither children, old men nor women ; injure not the date- 
palm nor burn it with fire, nor cut down any fruit-bearing tree ; 
slay neither flocks nor herds nor camels, except for food ; 
perchance you may come across men who have retired into 
monasteries, leave them and their works in peace ; you may eat 
of the food that the people of the land will bring you in their 
vessels, making mention thereon of the name of God ; and you 
will come across people with shaven crowns, touch them only 
with the flat of the sword. 1 Go forward now in the name of God 
and may He protect you in battle and pestilence." 2 For the 
provinces of the Byzantine Empire that were rapidly acquired 
by the prowess of the Muslims found themselves in the enjoyment 
of a toleration such as, on account of their Monophysite 
and Nestorian opinions, had been unknown to them for many 
centuries. They were allowed the free and undisturbed exercise 
of their religion with some few restrictions imposed for the sake 
of preventing any friction between the adherents of the rival 
religions, or arousing any fanaticism by the ostentatious exhibition 
of religious symbols that were so offensive to Muslim feeling. 
The extent of this toleration so striking in the history of the 
seventh century may be judged from the terms granted to the 
conquered cities, in which protection of life and property and 
toleration of religious belief were given in return for submission 
and the payment of a capitation-tax. 8 

In Damascus, which was held to have been partly taken by 
storm and partly to have capitulated for while one Muslim 
general made his way into the city by the eastern gate at the 
point of the sword, another at the western gate received the sub- 
mission of the governor of the city the churches were equally 
divided between the Christians and the conquerors. The great 
Cathedral of St. John was similarly divided, and for eighty years 
the adherents of the two rival religions worshipped under the 

1 Lit. tap them a tap with the sword : Uii. U^-J^ -yii.l*. These words have 
often been falsely translated, '* Put them to death," but the word j-o* means 
originally " to hit so as to make a slight sound," and when used of a sword comes 
to mean, "to hit with the flat of a sword": here the action is a sign of the 
authority that the Muslims would henceforth exercise over them. 

2 Tabarl, Prima Series, p. 1850. 
Al Baladhuri, pp. 73-4. 


same roof. The Caliph 'Abdu-1 Malik wished to convert the 
whole into a mosque, but abstained on finding that the terms of 
the capitulation forbade it. Several others of the caliphs had 
sought in vain by offers of large sums of money to achieve the 
same object, as the Muslims suffered great annoyance from the 
loud chanting of the Christians, until (about a.h. 90) the Caliph 
Walid effected by force what others had sought to gain by fair 
means. A few years later 'Umar II. listened to the complaints 
of the Christians against the injustice that had been done them 
and gave them, in exchange, those churches of the city and its 
suburbs that had been confiscated at the time of the assault. 

When Jerusalem submitted to the Caliph 'Umar, the following 
conditions were drawn up : " In the name of God, the merciful, 
the compassionate ! The following are the terms of capitulation, 
which I, 'Umar, the servant of God, the Commander of the 
Faithful, grant to the people of Jerusalem. I grant them 
security for their lives, their possessions, and their children, their 
churches, their crosses, and all that appertains to them in their 
integrity, and their lands and to all of their religion. Their 
churches therein shall not be impoverished, nor destroyed, 
nor injured from among them ; neither their endowments, 
nor their dignity ; and not a thing of their property ; neither 
shall the inhabitants of Jerusalem be exposed to violence in 
following their religion ; nor shall one of them be injured." l A 
tribute was imposed upon them of five dinars for the rich, four 
for the middle class and three for the poor. In company with 
the Patriarch, 'Umar visited the holy places, and it is said while 
they were in the Church of the Resurrection, as it was the 
appointed hour of prayer, the Patriarch bade the Caliph offer 
his prayers there, but he thoughtfully refused, saying that if he 
were to do so, his followers might afterwards claim it as a place of 
Muslim worship. 

For such thoughtfulness it is hard to find parallels in the later 
history of the Christians under Muhammadan rule, or for the 
generosity of the Caliph Mu'awiyah (661-680), who rebuilt the 
great Church of Edessa at the intercession of his Christian 
subjects. 2 But, as a general rule, the behaviour of the Caliphs 

1 The History of the Temple of Jerusalem, translated from the lArabic by 
J. Reynolds, pp. 168-9. (London, 1836.) 

2 Finlay, vol. i. p. 384. 

E 2 


towards their Christian subjects has been guided by principles of 
toleration, and (if we except particular periods of persecution, such 
as the reign of Al Mutawakkil), the only restrictions imposed 
were those found in the so-called Ordinance of 'Umar. 

This formula is traditionally said to have been the one adopted 
by the Christian cities that submitted to the Muslim army ; but 
none of the earliest Muhammadan historians give it, and Sir 
William Muir l doubts its authenticity and considers that it con- 
tains oppressive terms that are more characteristic of later times 
than of the reign of the tolerant 'Umar. " In the name of God, 
the Merciful, the Compassionate ! This is the writing from the 
Christians of such and such a city to 'Umar ibnu-1 Khattab. 
When you marched against us, we asked of you protection for 
ourselves, our families, our possessions and our co-religionists ; 
and we made this stipulation with you, that we will not erect in 
our city or the suburbs any new monastery, church, cell or 
hermitage ; 2 that we will not repair any of such buildings that 
may fall into ruins, or renew those that may be situated in the 
Muslim quarters of the town ; that we will not refuse the Muslims 
entry into our churches either by night or by day ; that we will 
open the gates wide to passengers and travellers ; that we will 
receive any Muslim traveller into our houses and give him food 
and lodging for three nights ; that we will not harbour any spy 
in our churches or houses, or conceal any enemy of the Muslims ; 
that we will not teach our children the Qur'iin ; 8 that we will not 
make a show of the Christian religion nor invite anyone to 

1 " We read in later days of the ' Ordinance of Omar,' regulating the condition 
of Christian communities throughout Islam. But it would be a libel on that 
tolerant ruler to credit him with the greater part of these observances ; . . . . the worst 
disabilities of the intolerant ' Ordinance ' were not imposed till a lat;r period." 
{The Caliphate, p. 146-7.) It does not seem to be mentioned by any authority 
earlier than the eighth century of the Hijrah. (Steinschneider, pp. 165-187.) 

2 Some authorities on Muhammadan law held that this rule did not extend to 
villages and hamlets, in which the construction of churches was not to be prevented. 
(Hidilyah, vol. ii. p. 219.) 

8 " The ' Ulama' are divided in opinion on the question of the teaching of the 
Qur'an : the sect of Malik forbids it : that of Abu Hanifah allows it ; and Shufi'i 
has two opinions on the subject : on the one hand, he countenances the study of 
it, as indicating a leaning towards Islam ; and on the other hand, he forbids it, 
because he fears that the unbeliever who studies the Qur'an being still impure 
may read it solely with the object of turning it to ridicule, since he is the enemy 
of God and the Prophet who wrote the book ; now as these two statements are 
contradictory, Shafi'I has no formally stated opinion on this matter." (Belin, 
p. 508.) This very want of agreement on the part of these great Imams, or leaders 
of three of the orthodox sects of Islam, may well make us doubt whether these 
terms of capitulation can have been drawn up so early as the reign of 'Umar. 



embrace it ; that we will not prevent any of our kinsmen from 
embracing Islam, if they so desire. That we will honour the 
Muslims and rise up in our assemblies when they wish to take 
their seats ; that we will not imitate them in our dress, either in 
the cap, turban, sandals, or parting of the hair ; that we Avill not 
make use of their expressions of speech, 1 nor adopt their sur- 
names ; that we will not ride on saddles, or gird on swords, or 
take to ourselves arms or wear them, or engrave Arabic inscrip- 
tions on our rings ; that we will not sell wine ; that we will shave 
the front of our heads ; that we will keep to our own style of 
dress, wherever we may be ; that we will wear girdles round our 
waists ; that we will not display the cross upon our churches or 
display our crosses or our sacred books in the streets of the 
Muslims, or in their market-places ; 3 that we will strike the 
bells 3 in our churches lightly ; that we will not recite our services 
in a loud voice, when a Muslim is present, that we will not carry 
palm-branches or our images in procession in the streets, that at 
the burial of our dead we will not chant loudly or carry lighted 
candles in the streets of the Muslims or their market-places ; that 
we will not take any slaves that have already been in the 
possession of Muslims, nor spy into their houses ; and that we 
will not strike any Muslim. All this we promise to observe, on 
behalf of ourselves and our co-religionists, and receive protection 
from you in exchange ; and if we violate any of the conditions of 
this agreement, then we forfeit your protection and you are 
at liberty to treat us as enemies and rebels." 4 

To European readers, unaccustomed to the outward distinc- 
tions in dress, etc., that Orientals of different creeds naturally and 
spontaneously adopt, these regulations may appear an unwarrant- 
able infringement of personal liberty. But if the brotherhood of 
believers, what some modern writers are fond of calling the free- 
masonry of Islam, was to become a reality, it demanded some 

1 Such as the forms of greeting, etc, that are only to be used by Muslims to 
one another. 

2 Abu Yusuf (p. 82) says that Christians were to be allowed to go in procession 
once a year with crosses, but not with banners ; outside the city, not inside where 
the mosques were. 

3 The naqus, lit. an oblong piece of wood, struck with a rod. 

4 H. A. Hamaker : Incerti auctoris liber de expugnatione Memphidis et 
Alexandria, p. 165-6. (Lugduni Batavorum, 1825.) 

Von Kremer (i), vol. i. pp. 102-4. 

Journal Asiatique. IV me . serie, tome xviii. pp. 495-9. 



outward and visible expression, and it was necessary to prevent 
those who refused to enter into the pale of Islam from imitating 
the prevailing tendency among the new converts towards the 
adoption of Arab fashions in dress and speech. 1 As to the restric- 
tions imposed on the public exhibition of religious symbols and 
observances, these are only such as would be necessary for the pre- 
servation of public peace and order, and for avoiding any outbreak 
of fanaticism among the Muhammadan population, to whom any- 
thing savouring of idolatry was so especially hateful. Had these 
regulations always been observed, many a riot involving loss of 
Christian lives and property would have been prevented ; but, as 
a matter of fact, they were put into force with no sort of regularity ; 
indeed, some outburst of fanaticism was generally needed for their^ 

Enough has been said to show that the Christians in the early 
days of the Muhammadan conquest had little to complain of in 
the way of religious disabilities. It is true that adherence to their 
ancient faith rendered them obnoxious to the payment of jizyah 
or the capitation-tax, but this was too moderate to constitute a 
burden, seeing that it released them from the compulsory military 
service that was incumbent on their Muslim fellow-subjects. 
Conversion to Islam was certainly attended by a certain pecuniary 
advantage, but his former religion could have had very little hold 
on a convert who abandoned it merely to gain exemption from 
the jizyah ; in certain cases also, instead of the kharaj or land-tax, 
he was allowed to pay a tithe on the produce, but in other cases 
the kharilj was exacted even after conversion. 2 But, instead of 
jizyah, the convert had now to pay the legal alms, zakat, annually 
levied on most kinds of movable and immovable property. 3 

The rates of jizyah fixed by the early conquerors were not 
uniform, and the great Muslim doctors, Abu Hanifah and Malik, 

1 Goldziher, vol. i. pp. 109, 133. 

2 Von Kremer (1), vol. i. pp. 437" 8 177- " Mlt clem Uebertrittc zum Islam 
sollte die Kopftaxe entfallen ; allein da das Haupteinkommen des Staates eben 
auf der Grundsteuer und Kopftaxe der Andersgliiubigen l>eruhtc, so verhielt man 
dieselben, trotz ihres Uebertrittes diese Taxe unvcriindert zu bezahlen. Als 
endlich der alte" Gmndsatz, dass kein Moslim Landereien und andere Immobilien 
erwerben diirfe, gefallen war, machte man den Unterschicd zwischen Vollblut- 
Arabern und Neubekehrten, dass man diese trotz ihres Uebertrittes zum Islam 
verhielt, dennoch die Grundsteuer zu bezahlen, theilsweise sogar auch die 
Kopftaxe, wahrend die Ersteren nur die geringe Einkommensteuer (Zehent) zu 
entrichten hatten." (Id. vol. ii. p. 154.) 

* Goldziher, vol. i. pp. 50-57, 427-430. 


are not in agreement on some of the less important details j 1 the 
following facts taken from the Kitabu-1 Kharaj, drawn up by Abu 
Yusuf at the request of Harunu-r Rashid (a.d. 786-809) may be 
taken as generally representative of Muhammadan procedure 
under the Caliphate. The rich were to pay 48 dirhams 2 a year, 
the middle classes 24, while from the poor, i.e. the field-labourers 
and artisans, only 12 dirhams were taken. This tax could be paid 
in kind if desired ; cattle, merchandise, household effects, even 
needles were to be accepted in lieu of specie, but not pigs, wine, 
or dead animals. The tax was to be levied only on able-bodied 
males, and not on women or children. The poor who were 
dependent for their livelihood on alms and the aged poor who 
were incapable of work were also specially excepted, as also the 
blind, the lame, the incurables and the insane, unless they hap- 
pened to be men of wealth ; this same condition applied to priests 
and monks, who were- exempt if dependent on the alms of the 
rich, but had to pay if they were well-to-do and lived in comfort. 
The collectors of the jizyah were particularly instructed to show 
leniency, and refrain from all harsh treatment or the infliction of 
corporal punishment, in case of non-payment. 3 

This tax was not imposed on the Christians, as some would have 
us think, as a penalty for their refusal to accept the Muslim faith, 
but was paid by them in common with the other dhimmis or non- 
Muslim subjects of the state whose religion precluded them from 
serving in the army, in return for the protection secured for them 
by the arms of the Musulmans. When the people of Hirah con- 
tributed the sum agreed upon, they expressly mentioned that they 
paid this jizyah on condition that " the Muslims and their leader 
protect us from those who would oppress us, whether they be 
Muslims or others." 4 Again, in the treaty made by Khalid with 
some towns in the neighbourhood of Hirah, he writes, u If we 
protect you, then jizyah is due to us ; but if we do not, then it is 
not due." 5 How clearly this condition was recognised by the 
Muhammadans may be judged from the following incident in the 
reign of the Caliph 'Umar. The Emperor Heraclius had raised 
an enormous army with which to drive back the invading forces 

1 See Sale's note on Surah IX. v. 29, and A. von Kremer (1), vol. i. pp. 
60, 436. 

2 A dirham is about five pence. 3 Abu Yusuf, pp. 69-71. 

4 Tabari, Prima Series, p. 2055. * Tabarl, Prima Series, p. 2050. 


of the Muslims, who had in consequence to concentrate all their 
energies on the impending encounter. The Arab general, Abu 
'Ubaydah, accordingly wrote to the governors of the conquered 
cities of Syria, ordering them to pay back all the jizyah that had 
been collected from the cities, and wrote to the people, saying, 
We give you back the money that we took from you, as we 
have received news that a strong force is advancing against us. 
The agreement between us was that we should protect you, and 
as this is not now in our power, we return you all that we took. 
But if we are victorious we shall consider ourselves bound to you 
by the old terms of our agreement." In accordance with this order, 
enormous sums were paid back out of the state treasury, and the 
Christians called down blessings on the heads of the Muslims, 
saying, " May God give you rule over us again and make you 
victorious over the Romans ; had it been they, they would not 
have given us back anything, but would have taken all that 
remained with us." l 

As stated above, the jizyah was levied on the able-bodied males, 
in lieu of the military service they would have been called upon 
to perform had they been Musalmans ; and it is very noticeable 
that when any Christian people served in the Muslim army, they 
were exempted from the payment of this tax. Such was the case 
with the tribe of Jarajimah, a Christian tribe in the neighbour- 
hood of Antioch, who made peace with the Muslims, promising to 
be their allies and fight on their side in battle, on condition that 
they should not be called upon to pay jizyah and should receive 
their proper share of the booty. 2 When the Arab conquests were 
pushed to the north of Persia in a.h. 22, a similar agreement was 
made with a frontier tribe, which was exempted from the payment 
of jizyah in consideration of military service. 8 

We find similar instances of the remission of jizyah in the case 
of Christians who served in the army or navy under the Turkish 
rule. For example, the inhabitants of Megaris, a community of 
Albanian Christians, were exempted from the payment of this tax 
on condition that they furnished a body of armed men to guard the 
passes over Mounts Cithseron and Geranea, which lead to the 
Isthmus of Corinth. Similarly, the Christian inhabitants of Hydra 
paid no direct taxes to the Sultan, but -[furnished instead a con- 

1 Abu Yusuf, p. 81. " Al Baladhurl, p. 159. 

a Tabarl, Prima Series, p. 2665. 


tingent of 250 able-bodied seamen to the Turkish fleet, who were 
supported out of the local treasury. 1 The Mirdites, a tribe of 
Albanian Catholics who occupied the mountains to the north of 
Scutari, were exempt from taxation on condition of supplying an 
armed contingent in time of war. 2 In the same spirit, in con- 
sideration of the services they rendered to the state, the capitation 
tax was not imposed upon the Greek Christians who looked after 
the aqueducts that supplied Constantinople with drinking-water. 3 
On the other hand, when the Egyptian peasants, although Muslim 
in faith, were made exempt from military service, a tax was 
imposed upon them as on the Christians, in lieu thereof. 4 

Living under this security of life and property and such tolera- 
tion of religious thought, the Christian community especially in 
the towns enjoyed a flourishing prosperity in the early days of 
the Caliphate. Christians frequently held high posts at court, e.g. 
a Christian Arab, Al Akhtal, was court poet, and the father of St. 
John of Damascus, counsellor to the Caliph ( Abdu-l Malik (685- 
705). In the service of the Caliph Al Mu'tasim (833-842) there 
were two brothers, Christians, who stood very high in the confidence 
of the Commander of the Faithful : the one, named Salmoyah, 
seems to have occupied somewhat the position of a modern 
secretary of state, and no royal documents were valid until 
countersigned by him, while his brother, Ibrahim, was entrusted 
with the care of the privy seal, and was set over the Baytu-1 Mai 
or Public Treasury, an office that, from the nature of the funds 
and their disposal, might have been expected to have been put 
into the hands of a Muslim ; so great was the Caliph's personal 
affection for this Ibrahim, that he visited him in his sickness, and 
was overwhelmed with grief at his death, and on the day of the 
funeral ordered the body to be brought to the palace and the 
Christian rites performed there with great solemnity. 5 Na?r ibn 
Harun, the prime minister of 'Adudu-d Dawlah (949-982), of the 
Buwayhid dynasty of Persia, was a Christian, and built many 
churches and monasteries. 6 For a long time, the government 
offices, especially in the department of finance, were filled with 

1 Finlay, vol. vi. p. 30, 33. J De la Tonquiere, p. 14. 

3 Thomas Smith, p. 324. 4 De la Jonquiere, p. 265. 

5 Ibn Abl Usaybi'ah : Kitabu 'Uyunu-1 Anba'i fi Tabaqati-1 Atibba'i. Vol. i. 
p. 164. (Cairo, A.H. 1299.) 

6 Ibnu-1 Athlr, vol. viii. p. 281. 


Christians and Persians ; l to a much later date was such the case 
in Egypt, where at times the Christians almost entirely mono- 
polised such posts. 3 Particularly as physicians, the Christians 
frequently amassed great wealth and were much honoured in the 
houses of the great. Gabriel, the personal physician of the 
Caliph Harunu-r Rashid, was a Nestorian Christian and derived a 
yearly income of 800,000 dirhams from his private property, in 
addition to an emolument of 280,000 dirhams a year in return for 
his attendance on the caliph ; the second physician, also a Chris- 
tian, received 22,000 dirhams a year. 3 In trade and commerce, 
the Christians also attained considerable affluence : indeed it was 
frequently their wealth that excited against them the jealous 
cupidity of the mob, a feeling that fanatics took advantage of, 
to persecute and oppress them. Further, the non-Muslim com- 
munities enjoyed an almost complete autonomy, for the govern- 
ment placed in their hands the independent management of their 
internal affairs, and their religious leaders exercised judicial 
functions in cases that concerned their co-religionists only. 4 
Their churches and monasteries were in no way interfered with, 
except in the large cities, where some of them were turned into 
mosques, a measure that could hardly be objected to in view of 
the enormous increase in the Muslim and corresponding decrease 
in the Christian population. They were even allowed to erect new 
churches and monasteries. The very fact that 'Umar II. (717- 
720), at the close of the first century of the Hijrah, should have 
ordered the destruction of all recently constructed churches, and 
that rather more than a century later, the fanatical Al Muta- 
wakkil (847-861) should have had to repeat the same order, shows 
how little the prohibition of the building of new churches was 
put into force. 5 We have numerous instances recorded, both by 
Christian and Muhammadan historians, of the building of new 
churches : e.g. in the reign of 'Abdu-1 Malik (685-705) a church 
was erected in Edessa and two others at Fustat in Egypt, 6 and 
one, dedicated to St. George, at Halwan, a village not far from 
Fustat. 7 In 711 a.d. a Jacobite church was built at Antioch by 

1 Von Kremer (1), vol. i. p. 167-8. 

2 Renaudot, pp. 430, 540. 

3 Von Kremer (1), vol. ii. p. 180-1. 

4 id. vol. i. p. 183. 

5 Journal Asiatique. IV me serie, tome xviii. (1S51) pp. 433, 450. 

6 Michel le Grand, p. 247. Renaudot, p. 189. 

7 Eutychius, torn. ii. p. 369. 


order of the Caliph Walid (705-7 15). 1 In the following reign, 
Khalidu-1 Kasri, who was governor of Arabian and Persian 'Iraq 
from 724 to 738, built a church for his mother, who was a 
Christian, to worship in. 2 In 759 the building of a church at 
Nisibis was completed, on which the Metropolitan had expended 
a sum of 56,000 dinars. 3 From the same century dates the church 
of Abu Sirjah in the ancient Roman fortress in old Cairo. 4 In 
the reign of Al.Mahdi (775-785) a church was erected in Baghdad 
for the use of the Christian prisoners that had been taken captive 
during the numerous campaigns against the Byzantine Empire. 5 
Another church was built in the same city, in the reign of 
Harunu-r Rashid (786-809), by the people of Samalu, who had 
submitted to the Caliph and received protection from him ; 6 
during the same reign a magnificent church was erected in 
Babylon in which were enshrined the bodies of the prophets 
Daniel and Ezechiel.? When Al Ma'mun (813-833) was in Egypt 
he gave permission to two of his chamberlains to erect a church 
on Al Muqattam, a hill near Cairo ; and by the same caliph's 
leave, a wealthy Christian, named Bukam, built several fine 
churches at Burah. 8 The Nestorian Patriarch, Timotheus, who 
died 820 a.d., erected a church at Takrit and a monastery at 
Ba gh dad. 9 In the tenth century, the beautiful Coptic Church of 
Abu Sayfayn was built in Fustat ; 10 in the same century the 
Christian prime minister, Nasr ibn Harun, of the Buwayhid 
'Adudu-d Dawlah (949-982), who ruled over Southern Persia and 
'Iraq, had many churches and monasteries built. 11 A new church 
was built at Jiddah in the reign of A? Zahir, the seventh Fatimid 
Caliph of Egypt (1020- 103 5). 12 New churches and monasteries 
were also built in the reign of the 'Abbasid, Al Mustadi (1170- 
1180). 13 In 1 1 87 a church was built at Fustat and dedicated to 
Our Lady the Pure Virgin. 14 

1 Von Kremer (1), vol. ii. p. 175. 

2 Ibn Khallikan, vol. i. p. 485. 
* Elias of Nisibis, p. 128. 

4 A. J. Butler: The Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt. Vol. i. p. 181. 
(Oxford, 1884.) 

5 Yaqut, vol. ii. p. 662. 6 Yaqiit, vol. ii- P- 670. 

7 Chronique de Michel le Grand, p. 266. 

8 Eutychius, pp. 430, 432. 

9 Von Kremer (1;, vol. ii. p. 175-6. 

"> Butler : Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt. Vol. i. p. 76. 
11 Ibnu-1 Athir, vol. viii. p. 281. 12 Renaudot.p. 399. 

l * Michel le Grand,- p. 333. 14 Abu Salih, p. 92. 


Indeed, so far from the development of the Christian Church 
being hampered by the establishment of Muhammadan rule, the 
history of the Nestorians exhibits a remarkable outburst of 
religious life and energy from the time of their becoming subject 
to the Muslims. 1 Alternately petted and persecuted by the 
Persian kings, in whose dominions by far the majority of the 
members of this sect were found, it had passed a rather precarious 
existence and had been subjected to harsh treatment, when war 
between Persia and Byzantium exposed it to the suspicion of 
sympathising with the Christian enemy. But, under the rule of 
the Caliphs, the security they enjoyed at home enabled them to 
vigorously push forward their missionary enterprises abroad. 
Missionaries were sent into China and India, both of which 
were raised to the dignity of metropolitan sees in the eighth 
century ; about the same period they gained a footing in Egypt, 
and later spread the Christian faith right across Asia, and by the 
eleventh century had gained many converts from among the 

If the other Christian sects failed to exhibit the same vigorous 
life, it was not the fault oftheMuhammadans. All were tolerated 
alike by the supreme government, and furthermore were pre- 
vented from persecuting one another. In the fifth century, 
Barsumas, a Nestorian bishop, had persuaded the Persian King 
to set on foot a fierce persecution of the Orthodox Church, by 
representing Nestorius as a friend of the Persians and his 
doctrines as approximating to their own ; as many as 7800 of the 
Orthodox clergy, with an enormous number of laymen, are said 
to have been butchered during this persecution.' Another per- 
secution was instituted against the orthodox by the Persian King, 
about 1 50 years later, at the instigation of his private physician, 
who was a Jacobite, and persuaded the King that the orthodox 
would always be favourably inclined towards the Byzantines. 3 
But the principles of Muslim toleration forbade such acts of injustice 

1 A Dominican monk from Florence, by name Ricoldus de Monte Crucls, who 
visited the East about the close of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth 
century, speaks of the toleration the Nestorians had enjoyed under Muhammadan 
rule right up to his time : " Et ego inveni per antiquas historias et autenticas aput 
Saracenos, quod ipsi Nestorini amici fuerunt Machometi et confederati cum eo, et 
quod ipse Machometus mandauit suis posteris, quod Nestorinos maxime con- 
seruarent. Quod usque hodic diligenter obseruant ipsi Sarraceni." (Laurent, 
p. 128.) 

' Michel le Grand, pp. 236*7. 3 Al Makln, p. 12. 


as these : on the contrary, it seems to have been their endeavour to 
deal fairly by all their Christian subjects : e.g. after the conquest of 
Egypt, the Jacobites took advantage of the expulsion of the 
Byzantine authorities, to rob the Orthodox of their churches, 
but later they were restored by the Muhammadans to their 
rightful owners when these had made good their claim to possess 
them. 1 

In view of the toleration thus extended to their Christian 
subjects in the early period of the Muslim rule, the common 
hypothesis of the sword as the factor of conversion seems hardly 
satisfactory, and we are compelled to seek for other motives than 
that of persecution. But unfortunately very few details are 
forthcoming and we are obliged to have recourse to conjecture. 2 
Many Christian theologians 3 have supposed that the debased con- 
dition moral and spiritual of the Eastern Church of that period 
must have alienated the hearts of many and driven them to seek 
a healthier spiritual atmosphere in the faith of Islam which had 
come to them in all the vigour of new-born zeal. 4 For example, 
Dean Milman 5 asks, a What was the state of the Christian world in 
the provinces exposed to the first invasion of Mohammedanism ? 
Sect opposed to sect, clergy wrangling with clergy upon the 
most abstruse and metaphysical points of doctrine. The orthodox, 
the Nestorians, the Eutychians, the Jacobites were persecuting 
each other with unexhausted animosity ; and it is not judging too 
severely the evils of religious controversy to suppose that many 
would rejoice in the degradation of their adversaries under the 
yoke of the unbeliever, rather than make common cause with 
them in defence of the common Christianity. In how many must 

1 Renaudot, p. 169. 

2 Von Kremer well remarks : ' ' Wir verdanken dem unermiidlichen Sammel- 
fleiss der arabischen Chronisten unsere Kenntniss der politischen und militarischen 
Geschichte jener Zeiten, welche so genau ist als dies nur immer auf eine Entfer- 
nung von zwolf Jahrhunderten der Fall sein kann ; allein gerade die innere 
Geschichte jener denkwiirdigen Epoche, die Geschichte des Kampfes einer 
neuen, rohen Religion gegen die alten hochgebildeten, zum Theile iiberbildeten 
Culte ist kaum in ihren allgemeinsten Umrissen bekannt." Von Kremer (2), 
p. 1-2. 

8 Cf. in addition to the passages quoted below, M'Clintoch & Strong's 
Cyclopedia, sub art. Mohammedanism, vol. vi. p. 420. James Freeman Clarke : 
Ten Great Religions. Part ii. p. 75. (London, 1883.) 

4 Thus the Emperor Heraclius is represented by the Muhammadan historian as 
saying, "Their religion is a new religion which gives them new zeal." Tabari, 
p. 2103. 

5 History of Latin Christianity. Vol. ii. pp. 216-217. 


this incessant disputation have shaken the foundations of their 
faith ! It had been wonderful if thousands had not, in their 
weariness and perplexity, sought refuge from these interminable 
and implacable controversies in the simple, intelligible truth of 
the Divine Unity, though purchased by the acknowledgment of 
the prophetic mission of Mohammed." Again, Canon Taylor 1 
says : " It is easy to understand why this reformed Judaism 
spread so swiftly over Africa and Asia. The African and Syrian 
doctors had substituted abstruse metaphysical dogmas for the 
religion of Christ : they tried to combat the licentiousness of the 
age by setting forth the celestial merit of celibacy and the 
angelic excellence of virginity seclusion from the world was the 
road to holiness, dirt was the characteristic of monkish sanctity 
the people were practically polytheists, worshipping a crowd of 
martyrs, saints and angels ; the upper classes were effeminate and 
corrupt, the middle classes oppressed by taxation, 2 the slaves 
without hope for the present or the future. As with the besom 
of God, Islam swept away this mass of corruption and superstition. 
It was a revolt against empty theological polemics ; it was a 
masculine protest against the exaltation of celibacy as a crown of 
piety. It brought out the fundamental dogmas of religion the 
unity and greatness of God, that He is merciful and righteous, 
that He claims obedience to His will, resignation and faith. It j 
proclaimed the responsibility of man, a future life, a day of judg-/ 
ment, and stern retribution to fall upon the wicked ; and 
enforced the duties of prayer, almsgiving, fasting and benevolence. 
It thrust aside the artificial virtues, the religious frauds and follies, 
the perverted moral sentiments, and the verbal subtleties of 
theological disputants. It replaced monkishness by manliness. 
It gave hope to the slave, brotherhood to mankind, and recogni- 
tion to the fundamental facts of human nature." 

Islam has moreover been represented as a reaction against that 
Byzantine ecclesiasticism, 3 which looked upon the emperor and 

1 A paper read before the Church Congress at Wolverhampton, October 7th, 

2 For the oppressive fiscal system under the Byzantine Empire, see GfrOrer r 
ByzantinischeGeschichten. Vol. ii. pp. 337-9. 3 8 9-39* 45- 

3 "Der Islam war ein Riickstoss gegen den Missbrauch, welchen Justinian mit 
der Menschheit, besonders aber mit der christlichen Religion trieb, deren 
oberstes geistliches und weltliches Haupt er zu sein behauptete. Dass der 
Araber Mahomed, welcher 571 der christlichen Zeitrechnung, sechs Jahre nach 
dem Tode Justinian's, das Licht der Welt erblickte, mit seiner Lehre unerhortes- 



his court as a copy of the Divine Majesty on high, and the 
emperor himself as not only the supreme earthly ruler of 
Christendom, but as High-priest also. 1 Under Justinian this 
system had been hardened into a despotism that pressed like an 
iron weight upon clergy and laity alike. In 532 the widespread 
dissatisfaction in Constantinople with both church and state, 
burst out into a revolt against the government of Justinian, 
which was only suppressed after a massacre of 35,000 persons. 
The Greens, as the party of the malcontents was termed, had 
made open and violent protest in the circus against the oppression 
of the emperor, crying out, " Justice has vanished from the world 
and is no more to be found. But we will become Jews, or rather 
we will return again to Grecian paganism." 2 The lapse of a 
century had removed none of the grounds for the dissatisfaction 
that here found such violent expression, but the heavy hand of 
the Byzantine government prevented the renewal of such an 
outbreak as that of 532 and compelled the malcontents to 
dissemble, though in 560 some secret heathens were detected in 
Constantinople and punished. 3 On the borders of the empire, 
however, at a distance from the capital, such malcontents were 
safer, and the persecuted heretics, and others dissatisfied with the 
Byzantine state-church, took refuge in the East, and here the 
Muslim armies would be welcomed by the spiritual children of 
those who a hundred years before had desired to exchange the 
Christian religion for another faith. Further, the general 
adoption of the Arabic language throughout the empire of the 
Caliphate, especially in the towns and the great centres of 
population, and the gradual assimilation in manners and customs 
that in the course of about two centuries caused the numerous 
conquered races to be largely merged in the national life of the 
ruling race, had no doubt a counterpart in the religious and 
intellectual life of many members of the protected religions. The 
rationalistic movement that so powerfully influenced Muslim 
theology from the second to the fifth century of the Hijrah may 

Gliick machte, verdankte er grossentheils dem Abscheu, welchen die im Umkreise 
des byzantinischen Reiches angesessenen Volker, wie die benachbarten Nationen , 
iiber die von dem Basileus begangenen Greuel empfanden." Gfrorer : Byzan - 
tinische Geschichten. Vol. ii. p. 437. 
j Id. vol. ii. pp. 296-306, 337. 

2 Id. vol. 11. pp. 442-4. 

3 Id. vol. ii. p. 445. 


very possibly have influenced Christian thinkers, and turned them 
from a religion, the prevailing tone of whose theology seems at 
this time to have been Credo quia impossibilc. A Muhammadan 
writer of the fourth century of the Hijrah has preserved for us a 
conversation with a Coptic Christian which may safely be taken 
as characteristic of the general mental attitude of the rest of the 
Eastern Churches at this period : 

" My proof for the truth of Christianity is, that I find its teach- 
ings contradictory and mutually destructive, for they are repugnant 
to common-sense and revolting to the reason, on account of their 
inconsistency and contrariety. No reflection can strengthen 
them, no discussion can prove them ; and however thoughtfully 
we may investigate them, neither the intellect nor the senses can 
provide us with any argument in support of them. Notwith- 
standing this, I have seen that many nations and many kings of 
learning and sound judgment, have given in their allegiance to 
the Christian faith ; so I conclude that if these have accepted it 
in spite of all the contradictions referred to, it is because the 
proofs they have received, in the form of signs and miracles, have 
compelled them to submit to it." l 

On the other hand it should be remembered that those that 
passed over from Christianity to Islam, under the influence of the 
rationalistic tendencies of the age, would find in the Mu'tazilite 
presentment of Muslim theology, very much that was common to 
the two faiths, so that as far as the articles of belief and the 
intellectual attitude towards many theological questions were 
concerned, the transition was not so violent as might be supposed. 
To say nothing of the numerous fundamental doctrines, that will 
at once suggest themselves to those even who have only a slight 
knowledge of the teachings of W'e Prophet, there were many 
other common points of view, trlat were the direct consequences 
of the close relationships between the Christian and Muhammadan 
theologians in Damascus under the Umayyad caliphs as also in 
later times ; for it has been maintained that there is clear 
evidence of the influence of the Byzantine theologians on the 
development of the systematic treatment of Muhammadan 
dogmatics. The very form and arrangement of the oldest rule of 
faith in the Arabic language suggest a comparison with similar 

1 Mas'udi, vol. ii. p. 387. 


treatises of St. John of Damascus and other Christian fathers. 1 
The oldest Arab Sufiism, the trend of which was purely towards 
the ascetic life (as distinguished from the later Sufiism which was 
developed under the influence of ideas borrowed from India), 
originated for the most part under the influence of Christian 
thought. 2 Such influence is especially traceable in the doctrines 
of some of the Mu'tazilite sects, 3 who busied themselves with 
speculations on the attributes of the divine nature quite in the 
manner of the Byzantine theologians : the Qadariyah or liber- 
tarians of Islam probably borrowed their doctrine of the freedom 
of the will directly from Christianity, while the Murjiyah in their 
denial of the doctrine of eternal punishment were in thorough 
agreement with the teaching of the Eastern Church on this 
subject as against the generally received opinion of orthodox 
Muslims.* On the other hand, the influence of the more 
orthodox doctors of Islam in the conversion of unbelievers is 
attested by the tradition that twenty thousand Christians, Jews 
and Magians became Muslims when the great Imam Ibn Hanbal 
died. 5 A celebrated doctor of the same sect, Abu-1 Faraj ibnu-1 
Jawzi (a.d. 1 115- 1 201), the most learned man of his time, a 
popular preacher and most prolific writer, is said to have boasted 
that just the same number of persons accepted the faith of Islam 
at his hands. 6 

Further, the vast and unparalleled success of the Muslim arms 
shook the faith of the Christian peoples that came under their 
rule and saw in these conquests the hand of God. 7 Worldly 
prosperity they associated with the divine favour, and the God of 
battle (they thought) would surely give the victory only into the 
hands of his favoured servants. Thus the very success of the 
Muhammadans seemed to argue the truth of their religion. 

The Islamic ideal of the brotherhood of all believers was a-, 
powerful attraction towards this creed, and though the Arab pride 
of birth strove to refuse for several generations the privileges of 
the ruling race to the new converts, still as u clients " of the various 
Arab tribes to which at first they used to be affiliated, they received 

1 Von Kremer (2), p. 8. 2 Id. p. 54 & (3), p. 32. 

8 Among the Mu'tazilite philosophers, Muhammad ibnu-1 Hudhayl, the teacher 
of Al Ma'mun, is said to have converted more than three thousand persons to 
Islam. Al Murtada, sub voc. 

4 Von Kremer (2), pp. 3, 7-8. & Ibn Kiallikan, vol. i. p. 45. 

6 Wiistenfeld, p. 103. ' Michel le Grand, p. 231. 



a recognised position in the community, and by the close of the 
first century of the Hijrah they had vindicated for this ideal its 
true place in Muslim theology and at least a theoretical recogni- 
tion in the state. 1 

But the condition of the Christians did not always continue to be 
so tolerable as under the earlier caliphs. In the interests of the true 
believers, vexatious conditions were sometimes imposed upon the 
non-Muslim population (or dhimmis as they were called, from the 
compact of protection made with them), with the object of securing 
for the faithful superior social advantages. Unsuccessful attempts 
were made by several caliphs to exclude them from the public offices. 
Decrees to this effect were passed by Al Mutawakkil (847-861), 
Al Muqtadir (908-932), and in Egypt by Al Amir (1101-1130), 
one of the Fa^imid caliphs, and by the Mamluk Sultans in the 
fourteenth century. 2 But the very fact that these decrees ex- 
cluding the dhimmis from government posts were so often renewed, 
is a sign of the want of any continuity or persistency in putting 
such intolerant measures into practice. In fact they may gene- 
rally be traced either to popular indignation excited by the harsh 
and insolent behaviour of Christian officials, 8 or to outbursts of 
fanaticism which forced upon the government acts of oppression 
that were contrary to the general spirit of Muslim rule and were 
consequently allowed to lapse as soon as possible. 

The beginning of a harsher treatment of the native Christian 
population dates from the reign of Harunu-r Rashid (786-809) 
who ordered them to wear a distinctive dress and give up the 
government posts they held to Musalmans. The first of these 
orders shows how little one at least of the ordinances of 'Umar 
was observed, and these decrees were the outcome, not so much 
of any purely religious feeling, as of the political circumstances of 
the time. The Christians under Muhammadan rule have often 
had to suffer for the bad faith kept by foreign Christian powers in 
their relations with Muhammadan princes, and on this occasion it 
was the treachery of the Byzantine Emperor, Nicephorus, that 
caused the Christian name to stink in the nostrils of Harun. 4 

1 Goldziher, vol. i. chap. 3 & 4. 

2 The last of these was prompted by the discovery of an attempt on the part of 
the Christians to burn the city of Cairo. (De Guignes, vol. iv. p. 204-5.) 
Journal Asiatique, IV n, e sene, tome xviii. (1851), pp. 454, 455, 463, 484, 491. 

3 Assemani, torn. iii. pars. 2, p. c. Renaudot, pp. 432, 603, 607. 

4 Sir W. Muir : The Caliphate, p. 475. 


Many of the persecutions of Christians in Muslim countries can be 
traced either to distrust of their loyalty, excited by the intrigues 
and interference of Christian foreigners and the enemies of Islam, 
or to the bad feeling stirred up by the treacherous or brutal 
behaviour of the latter towards the Musalmans. Religious fanati- 
cism is, however, responsible for many of such persecutions, as in 
the reign of the Caliph Al Mutawakkil (847-861), under whom 
severe measures of oppression were taken against the Christians. 
This prince took advantage of the strong orthodox reaction that 
had set in in Muhammadan theology against the rationalistic and 
freethinking tendencies that had had free play under former 
rulers, and came forward as the champion of the extreme 
orthodox party, to which the mass of the people as contrasted 
with the higher classes belonged, 1 and which was eager to exact 
vengeance for the persecutions it had itself suffered in the two 
preceding reigns ; 3 he sought to curry their favour by persecuting 
the Mu'tazilites or rationalistic school of theologians, forbidding all 
further discussions on the Qur'an and declaring the doctrine that 
it was created, to be heretical ; he had the followers of 'All im- 
prisoned and beaten, pulled down the tomb of Husayn at Karbala' 
and forbade pilgrimages to be made to the site. The Christians 
shared in the sufferings of the other heretics ; for Al Mutawakkil 
put rigorously into force the rules that had been passed in former 
reigns prescribing a distinction in the dress of dhimmis and 
Muslims, ordered that the Christians should no longer be employed 
in the public offices, doubled the capitation-tax, forbade them to 
have Muslim slaves or use the same baths as the Muslims, and 
harassed them with several other restrictions. One of his suc- 
cessors, Al Muqtadir (908-932 A.D.j, renewed these regulations, 
which the lapse of half a century had apparently made to fall into 
disuse. Indeed such severe measures appear to have been very 
spasmodic and not to have been put into force with any regu- 
larity, as may be judged from the fact that succeeding rulers were 
called upon to renew them. Further, such oppression was con- 
trary to the tolerant spirit of Islam and the distinct usage and 
teaching of the Prophet, who had said, " Whoever torments the 
dhimmis, torments me;" 3 and the fanaticaf party tried in vain to 

1 Von Kremer (3), p. 246. 2 Muir (1), pp. 508, 516-17. 

3 Al Makin, p II. 
F 2 


enforce the persistent execution of these oppressive measures for 
the humiliation of the non-Muslim population. u The ' ulama ' 
(i.e. the learned, the clergy) consider this state of things ; they 
weep and groan in silence, while the princes who have the power 
of putting down these criminal abuses only shut their eyes to 
them." The rules that a fanatical priesthood may lay down for 
the repression of unbelievers cannot always be taken as a criterion 
of the practice of civil governments : it is failure to realise this 
fact that has rendered possible the highly -coloured pictures of 
the sufferings of the Christians under Muhammadan rule, 
drawn by writers who have assumed that the prescriptions of 
certain Muslim theologians represented an invariable practice. 
Such outbursts of persecution seem in some cases to have been 
excited by the alleged abuse of their position by those Christians 
who held high posts in the service of the government ; they 
aroused considerable hostility of feeling towards themselves by 
their oppression of the Muslims, it being said that they took 
advantage of their high position to plunder and annoy the faithful, 
treating them with great harshness and rudeness and despoiling 
them of their lands and money. Such complaints were laid before 
the caliphs Al-Man?ur (754-775), Al-Mahdi (775-785), Al Ma'mun 
(813-833), Al Mutawakkil (847-861), Al Muqtadir (908-932), and 
many of their successors. 2 They also incurred the odium of many 
Muhammadans by acting as the spies of the 'Abbasid dynasty and 
hunting down the adherents of the displaced Umayyad family. 8 
At a later period, during the time of the Crusades they were 
accused of treasonable correspondence with the Crusaders 4 and 
brought on themselves severe restrictive measures which cannot 
justly be described as religious persecution. 

In proportion as the lot of the conquered peoples became harder 
to bear, the more irresistible was the temptation to free them- 
selves from their miseries, by the words, " There is no God but 
God and Muhammad is the Prophet of God." When the state 
was in need of money as was increasingly the case the subject 
races were more and more burdened with taxes, so that the 
condition of the non-Muslims was constantly growing more 

1 Journal Asiatique. IV rae serie, tome xix. p. 109. (Paris, 1852.) 

3 Belin, pp. 435*440, 442, 448, 456, 459-4^1 , 479-48o. 
s Id. p. 435, n. 2. 

4 Id. p. 478. 


unendurable, and conversions to Islam increased in the same 
proportion. Further causes that contributed to the decrease of 
the Christian population may be found in the fact that the 
children of the numerous Christian captive women who were 
carried off to the harems of the Muslims, had to be brought up in 
the religion of their fathers, and in the frequent temptation that 
was offered to the Christian slave by an indulgent master, of pur- 
chasing his freedom at the price of conversion to Islam. But of 
any organised attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the 
non -Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended 
to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the 
Caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have 
swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove 
Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV. made Protestantism penal in 
France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The 
Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion 
with the rest of Christendom, throughout which no one would 
have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical com- 
munions. So that the very survival of these churches to the 
present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of 
the Muhammadan governments towards them. 1 

In the Patriarchate of Antioch there were, in 1888, 80,000 
Christians ; in the Patriarchate of Palestine, 50.000 ; in the West 
Syrian or Jacobite Church, 400,000 ; in the East Syrian or 
Assyrian Church, 200,000. Besides these, there are the Maronite 
Church of Lebanon and the other Uniat Churches in the East 
that have submitted to the Church of Rome. 2 The marvel is 
that these isolated and scattered communities should have 
survived so long, exposed as they have been to the ravages of 
war, pestilence and famine, 3 living in a country that was for 

1 The Caliph of Egypt, Al Hakim (996-1020, A.D.) did in fact order all the 
Jews and Christians to leave Egypt and emigrate into the Byrantine territory, but 
yielded to their entreaties to revoke his orders. (MaqrizI (1), p. 91.) It would 
have been quite possible however for him to have enforced its execution as it 
would have been for the ferocious Salim I. (1512-1520), who with the design of 
putting an end to all religious differences in his dominions caused 40,000 Shl'ahs 
to be massacred, to have completed this politic scheme by the extermination of 
the Christians also. But in allowing himself to be dissuaded from this design, he 
most certainly acted in accordance with the general policy adopted by Muham- 
madan rulers towards their Christian subjects. (Finlny, vol. v. pp. 29-30.) 

2 Athelstan Riley: Synopsis of Oriental Churches. (The Guardian, 
June 27th. 1888.) 

3 See A. von Kremer (i), vol. ii. pp. 490-492. 


centuries a continual battlefield, overrun by Turks, Mongols and 
Crusaders, 1 it being further remembered that they were forbidden 
by the Muhammadan law to make good this decay of their 
numbers by proselytising efforts, if indeed they had cared to do so, 
for they seem (with the exception of the Nestorians) even before 
the Muhammadan conquest, to have lost that missionary spirit, 
without which, as history abundantly shows, no healthy life is 
possible in a Christian church. It has also been suggested that 
the monastic ideal of continence so widespread in the East, and 
the Christian practice of monogamy together with the sense 
of insecurity and their servile condition, may have acted as checks 
on the growth of the Christian population. 2 

It is to some such causes as those above enumerated, together 
with a constant stream of conversions to Islam, rather than to 
religious persecution on the part of their Muhammadan rulers, 
that we must attribute the decay of the Christian populations of 
the East. 

Of the details of conversion to Islam we have hardly any 
information. At the time of the first occupation of their country 
by the Arabs, the Christians appear to have gone over to Islam 
in very large numbers. 3 Some idea of the extent of these early 
conversions in 'Iraq for example may be formed from the fact 
that the income from taxation in the reign of 'Umar was from 
ioo to 1 20 million dirhams, while in the reign of 'Abdu-1 Malik, 
about 50 years later, it had sunk to forty millions : while this fall 
in the revenue is largely attributable to the devastation caused by 
wars and insurrections, still it was chiefly due to the fact that 
such large numbers of the population had become Muhammadan 
and consequently could no longer be called upon to pay the 
capitation-tax. 4 This same period witnessed the conversion of 
large numbers of the Christians of Khurasan, as we learn from a 
letter of a contemporary ecclesiastic, the Jacobite Patriarch, 
Jesujab III., addressed to Simeon, the Metropolitan of Ravarshir 

The sack of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204 may be taken as a type 
of the treatment that the Eastern Christians met with at the hands of the Latins. 
Abu-1 Faraj complains that the monastery of Harran was sacked and plundered 
by Count Goscelin, lord of Edessa, in 11 84, just as though he had been a Saracen 
or a Turk. (Abu-1 Faraj (1), vol. ii. pp. 506-8.) 
3 H. H. Milman, vol. ii. p. 218. 

3 J. B. Bury: A History of the later Roman Empire. Vol. ii. p. 267. (Lond. i^'So.) 

4 A. von. Krcmer (ij, vol. i. p. 172. 


and Primate of Persia. We possess so very few Christian docu- 
ments of the first century of the Hijrah, and this letter bears such 
striking testimony to the peaceful character of the spread of the 
new faith, and has moreover been so little noticed by modern 
historians that it may well be quoted here at length. " Where 
are thy sons, O father bereft of sons ? Where is that great 
people of Merv, who though they beheld neither sword, nor fire 
or tortures, captivated only by love for a moiety of their goods, 
have turned aside, like fools, from the true path and rushed head- 
long into the pit of faithlessness into everlasting destruction, 
and have utterly been brought to nought, while two priests only 
(priests at least in name) have, like brands snatched from the 
burning, escaped the devouring flames of infidelity. Alas, alas ! 
Out of so many thousands who bore the name of Christians, not 
even one single victim was consecrated unto God by the shedding 
of his blood for the true faith. Where, too, are the sanctuaries 
of Kirman and all Persia ? it is not the coming of Satan or the 
mandates of the kings of the earth or the orders of governors of 
provinces that have laid them waste and in ruins but the feeble 
breath of one contemptible little demon, who was not deemed 
worthy of the honour of demons by those demons who sent him 
on his errand, nor was endowed by Satan the seducer with the 
power of diabolical deceit, that he might display it in your land ; 
but merely by the nod of his command he has thrown down all 
the churches of your Persia .... And the Arabs, to whom God 
at this time has given the empire of the world, behold, they 
are among you, as ye know well : and yet they attack not the 
Christian faith, but, on the contrary, they favour our religion, do 
honour to our priests and the saints of the Lord, and confer 
benefits on churches and monasteries. Why then have your 
people of Merv abandoned their faith for the sake of these Arabs ? 
and that too when the Arabs, as the people of Merv themselves 
declare, have not compelled them to leave their own religion 
but suffered them to keep it safe and undefiled if they gave up 
only a moiety of their goods. But forsaking the faith which 
brings eternal salvation, they clung to a moiety of the goods of 
this fleeting world : that faith which whole nations have pur- 
chased and even to this day do purchase by the shedding of their 
blood and gain thereby the inheritance of eternal life, your people 
of Merv w r ere willing to barter for a moiety of their goods and 


even less." 1 The reign of the Caliph 'Umar II. (a.d. 717-720) 
particularly was marked with very extensive conversions : he 
organised a zealous missionary movement and offered every kind 
of inducement to the conquered peoples to accept Islam. He 
abrogated the decree passed in a.d. 700 for the purpose of 
arresting the impoverishment of the treasury, according to which 
the convert to Islam was not released from the capitation-tax, 
but was compelled to continue to pay it as before. He no longer 
exacted the kharaj from the Muhammadan owners of landed 
property, and imposed upon them the far lighter burden of a 
tithe. These measures, though financially most ruinous, were 
eminently successful in the way the pious-minded caliph desired 
they should be, and enormous numbers hastened to enrol them- 
selves among the Musalmans. 2 

It must not however be supposed that such worldly considera- 
tions were the only influences at work in the conversion of 
the Christians to Islam. The controversial works of St. John of 
Damascus, of the same century, give us glimpses of the zealous 
Muslim striving to undermine by his arguments the foundations 
of the Christian faith. The very dialogue form into which these 
treatises are thrown, and the frequent repetition of such phrases 
as M If the Saracen asks you/' " If the Saracen says .... then tell 
him" . . . give them an air oivraisemblance and make them appear 
as if they were intended to provide the Christians with ready 
answers to the numerous objections which their Muslim neigh- 
bours brought against the Christian creed. 3 That the aggressive 
attitude of the Muhammadan disputant is most prominently 
brought forward in these dialogues is only what might be 
expected, it being no part of this great theologian's purpose to 
enshrine in his writings an apology for Islam. His pupil, Bishop 
Theodore Abu Qarah, also wrote several controversial dialogues A 
with Muhammadans, in which the disputants range over all the 
points of dispute between the two faiths, the Muslim as before 
being the first to take up the cudgels, and enabling us to form 
some slight idea of the activity with which the cause of Islam 
was prosecuted at this period. " The thoughts of the Agarenes,'' 

1 Assemani. Tom. iii. Pars Prima, pp. 130-1. 

' August Miiller, vol. i. p. 440. 

* Migne: Patr. Gr. Tom. 96, pp. 1336-1348. 

4 Migne: Patr. Gr. Tom. 97, pp. 1528-9, 1548-61. 



says the bishop, "and all their zeal, are directed towards the 
denial of the divinity of God the Word, and they strain every 
effort to this end." l 

These details from the first two centuries of the Hijrah are 
meagre in the extreme and rather suggest the existence of 
proselytising efforts than furnish definite facts. The earliest 
document of a distinctly missionary character which has come 
down to us, would seem to date from the reign of Al Ma'mun 
(813-833), and takes the form of a letter 2 written by a cousin of 
the Caliph to a Christian Arab of noble birth and of considerable 
distinction at the court, and held in high esteem by Al Ma'mun 
himself. In this letter he begs his friend to embrace Islam, 
in terms of affectionate appeal and in language that strikingly 
illustrates the tolerant attitude of the Muslims towards the 
Christian church at this period. This letter occupies an almost 
unique place in the early history of the propagation of Islam, and 
has on this account been given in full in an appendix. 3 In the 
same work we have a report of a speech made by the Caliph at 
an assembly of his nobles, in which he speaks in tones of the 
strongest contempt of those who had become Muhammadans 
merely out of worldly and selfish motives, and compares them to 
the Hypocrites who while pretending to be friends of the 
Prophet, in secret plotted against his life. But just as the 
Prophet returned good for evil, so the Caliph resolves to treat 
these persons with courtesy and forbearance until God should 
decide between them. 4 The record of this complaint on the part 
of the Caliph is interesting as indicating that disinterested and 
genuine conviction was expected and looked for in the new 
convert to Islam, and that the discovery of self-seeking and 
unworthy motives drew upon him the severest censure. 

Al Ma'mun himself was very zealous in his efforts to spread the 
faith of Islam, and sent gracious invitations to unbelievers even 
in the most distant parts of his dominions, such as Transoxania 
and Farghanah. 6 At the same time he did- not abuse his royal 
power, by attempting to force his own faith upon others : when 

1 Id. p. 1557. 

2 Risalatu 'Abdi-llahi-bni Isma'ili-1 Hashimi ila 'Abdi-1 Maslhi-bni Isfcaqi-1 
Kindi, pp. 1-37. (London, 1885.) 

s Appendix II. For an account of Muslim controversial literature, see 
Appendix III. 

4 Al Kindi, pp. 111-113. 6 Al Baladhurl, pp. 430-1. 


a certain Yazdanbakht, a leader of the Manichaean sect, came on 
a visit to Baghdad 1 and held a disputation with the Muslim 
theologians, in which he was utterly silenced, the Caliph tried to 
induce him to embrace Islam. But Yazdanbakht refused, saying, 
" Commander of the faithful, your advice is heard and your words 
have been listened to ; but you are one of those who do not 
force men to abandon their religion." So far from resenting the 
ill-success of his efforts, the Caliph furnished him with a body- 
guard, that he might not be exposed to insult from the fanatical 
populace. 2 In the early part of the next century, Theodore, the 
Nestorian Bishop of Beth Garmai became a Musalman, and there 
is no mention of any force or compulsion by the ecclesiastical 
historian 3 who records the fact, as there would undoubtedly have 
been, had such existed. About a hundred years later, in 1016, 
Ignatius, 4 the Jacobite Metropolitan of Takrit, who had held this 
office for twenty-five years, set out for Baghdad and embraced 
Islam in the presence of the Caliph Al Qadir, taking the name of 
Abu Muslim. 5 It would be exceedingly interesting if an Apologia 
pro Vita Sua had survived to reveal to us the religious develop- 
ment that took place in the mind of either of these converts. 
The Christian chronicler hints at immorality in both cases, but. 
such an accusation uncorroborated by any further evidence is 
open to suspicion, 6 much as it would be if brought forward by a 

1 It is very probable that the occasion of this visit of Yazdanbakht to Baghdad 
was the summoning of a great assembly of the leaders of all the religious bodies 
of the period, by Al Ma'mun, when it had come to his ears that the enemies of 
Islam declared that it owed its success to the sword and not to the power of 
argument : in this meeting, the Muslim doctors defended their religion against 
this imputation, and the unbelievers are said to have acknowledged that the 
Muslims had satisfactorily proved their point. (Al Murtada sub. voc. Al 

3 Kitabu-1 Fihrist, vol. i. p. 338. 

' Abu-1 Faraj 'i), vol. iii. p. 230. 

4 All the Jacobite Patriarchs assume the name of Ignatius ; before his consecra- 
tion he was called Mark bar Qiql. 

* Abu-1 Faraj (1), vol. iii. pp. 288-290. 

Elias of Nisibis, pp. 153-4. He returned to the Christian faith, however, 
before his death, which took place about twenty years later. Two similar cases 
are recorded in the annals of the Jacobite Patriarchs of Antioch in the sixteenth 
century: of these one, named Joshua, became a Muhammadan in 151 7, but 
afterwards recanting fled to Cyprus (at that lime in the hands of the Venetians), 
where prostrate at the door of a church in penitential humility he suffered all who 
went in or out to tread over his body ; the other, Ni'matu-llah (flor. 1560), having 
abjured Christianity for Islam, sought absolution of Pope Gregory XIII. in Rome. 
(Abu-1 Faraj (1), vol. ii. pp. 847-8.) 

8 In fact Elins of Nisibis, the contemporary chronicler of the conversion of 
the Jacobite Patriarch, makes no mention of such a fa 


Roman Catholic when recording the conversion of a priest of his 
own communion to the Protestant faith. It is doubtless owing 
to their exalted position in the church that the conversion of 
these two prominent ecclesiastics of two hostile Christian sects 
has been handed down to us, while that of more obscure indivi- 
duals has not been recorded. But that these conversions were 
not merely isolated instances we have the valuable evidence of 
Jacques de Vitry, Bishop of Acre (1216-1225), who thus speaks 
of the Eastern Church from his experience of it in the Holy 
Land : " Weakened and lamentably ensnared, nay rather 
grievously wounded, by the lying persuasions of the false prophet 
and by the allurements of carnal pleasure, she hath sunk down, 
and she that was brought up in scarlet, hath embraced dung- 
hills." 1 

So far the Christian churches that have been described as 
coming within the sphere of Muhammadan influence, have been 
the orthodox Eastern Church and the heretical communions that 
had sprung out of it. But with the close of the eleventh century 
a fresh element was added to the Christian population of Syria 
and Palestine, in the large bodies of Crusaders of the Latin rite 
who settled in the kingdom of Jerusalem and the other states 
founded by the Crusaders, which maintained a precarious exist- 
ence for nearly two centuries. During this period, occasional 
conversions to Islam were made from among these foreign 
immigrants. In the first Crusade, for example, a body of Germans 
and Lombards under the command of a certain knight, named 
Rainaud, had separated themselves from the main body and were 
besieged in a castle by the Saljuq Sultan, Arslan ; on pretence of 
making a sortie, Rainaud and his personal followers abandoned 
their unfortunate companions and went over to the Turks, among 
whom they embraced Islam. 2 

The history of the ill-fated Second Crusade presents us with a 
very remarkable incident of a similar character. The story, as 
told by Odo of Deuil, a monk of St. Denis, who, in the capacity 
of private chaplain to Louis VII., accompanied him on this 
Crusade and wrote a graphic account of it, runs as follows. 

While endeavouring to make their way overland through Asia 
Minor to Jerusalem, the Crusaders sustained a disastrous defeat 

1 Historia Orientalis. C. 15 (p. 45.) 

2 De Guignes, Tome ii. (Second e Partie) p. 15. 


at the hands of the Turks in the mountain-passes ofPhrygia (a.d. 
i 148), and with difficulty reached the seaport town of Attalia. 
Here, all who could afford to satisfy the exorbitant demands of 
the Greek merchants, took ship for Antioch ; while the sick and 
wounded and the mass of the pilgrims were left behind at the 
mercy of their treacherous allies, the Greeks, who received five 
hundred marks from Louis, on condition that they provided an 
escort for the pilgrims and took care of the sick until they were 
strong enough to be sent on after the others. But no sooner had 
the army left, than the Greeks informed the Turks of the helpless 
condition of the pilgrims, and quietly looked on while famine, 
disease and the arrows of the enemy carried havoc and destruction 
through the camp of these unfortunates. Driven to desperation 
a party of three or four thousand attempted to escape, but were 
surrounded and cut to pieces by the Turks, who now pressed on 
to the camp to follow up their victory. The situation of the 
survivors would have been utterly hopeless, had not the sight of 
their misery melted the hearts of the Muhammadans to pity. 
They tended the sick and relieved the poor and starving with 
open-handed liberality. Some even bought up the French money 
which the Greeks had got out of the pilgrims by force or cunning, 
and lavishly distributed it among the needy. So great was the 
contrast between the kind treatment the pilgrims received from 
the unbelievers and the cruelty of their fellow-Christians, the 
Greeks, who imposed forced labour upon them, beat them and 
robbed them of what little they had left, that many of them 
voluntarily embraced the faith of their deliverers. As the 
old chronicler says : " Avoiding their co-religionists who had 
been so cruel to them, they went in safety among the infidels 
who had compassion upon them, and, as we heard, more than 
three thousand joined themselves to the Turks when they 
retired. Oh, kindness more cruel than all treachery ! They 
gave them bread but robbed them of their faith, though it is 
certain that contented with the services they performed, they 
compelled no one among them to renounce his religion." * 

1 Odo de Diogilo. (De Ludovici vii. Itinere. Migne, Patr. Lat. torn. cxcv. 
p. 1243.) " Vitantcs igitur sihi crudeles socios fidei, inter infideles sibi compatientcs 
ibant securi, et sicut audivimus plusquam tria millia iuvenum sunt illis recedenti- 
bus sociati. O pietas omni proditione crudelior ! Dantes panemfidem tollebant, 
quamvis certum sit quia, content i servitio, neminem negare cogebant." 


The increasing intercourse between Christians and Musalmans, 
the growing appreciation on the part of the Crusaders of the 
virtues of their opponents, which so strikingly distinguishes the 
later from the earlier chroniclers of the Crusades, 1 the numerous 
imitations of Oriental manners and ways of life by the Franks 
settled in the Holy Land, did not fail to exercise a corresponding 
influence on religious opinions. One of the most remarkable 
features of this influence is the tolerant attitude of many of the 
Christian Knights towards the faith of Islam an attitude of mind 
that was most vehemently denounced by the church. When 
Ibn Munqidh, a Syrian Amir of the twelfth century, visited 
Jerusalem, during a period of truce, the Knights Templar, who 
had occupied the Masjidu-1 Aqsa, assigned to him a small chapel 
adjoining it, for him to say his prayers in, and they strongly 
resented the interference with the devotions of their guest on the 
part of a newly-arrived Crusader, who took this new departure in 
the direction of religious freedom in very bad part. 2 It would 
indeed have been strange if religious questions had not formed a 
topic of discussion on the many occasions when the Crusaders and 
the Muslims met together on a friendly footing, during the 
frequent truces, especially when it was religion itself that had 
brought the Crusaders into the Holy Land and set them upon 
these constant wars. When even Christian theologians were led 
by their personal intercourse with the Muslims to form a juster 
estimate of their religion, and contact with new modes of 
thought was unsettling the minds of men and giving rise 
to a swarm of heresies, it is not surprising that many should 
have been drawn into the pale of Islam. 3 The renegades in 
the twelfth century were in sufficient numbers to be noticed in 
the statute books of the Crusaders, the so-called Assises of 
Jerusalem, according to which, in certain cases, their bail was not 
accepted. 4 

It would be interesting to discover who were the Muslims who 
busied themselves in winning these converts to Islam, but they 
seem to have left no record of their labours. We know, however, 

1 Guizot : Histoire de la Civilisation en Europe, p. 234. (Paris, 1882.) 

2 Ibn Munqidh : Premiere Partie, p. 187-8. 

3 Prutz, p. 266-7 

4 Assises de la Cour des Bourgeois. (Recueil des historiens |des Croisad s. 
Assises de Jerusalem. Tome ii. p. 325.) 


that they had at their head the great Saladin himself, who is 
described by his biographer as setting before his Christian guest 
the beauties of Islam and urging him to embrace it. 1 

The heroic life and character of Saladin seems to have exercised 
an especial fascination on the minds of the Christians of his time ; 
some even of the Christian knights were so strongly attracted 
towards him that they abandoned the Christian faith and their 
own people and joined themselves to the Musalmans ; such was 
the case, for example, with a certain English Templar, named 
Robert of St. Alban's, who in 1 185 a.d. gave up Christianity for 
Islam and afterwards married a grand-daughter of Saladin. 2 Two 
years later, Saladin invaded Palestine and utterly defeated the 
Christian army in the battle of Hittln, Guy, king of Jeru- 
salem, being among the prisoners. On the eve of the battle, six 
of his knights, " possessed with a devilish spirit," deserted the king 
and escaped into the camp of Saladin, where of their own accord 
they became Saracens. 3 At the same time Saladin seems to have 
had an understanding with Raymund TIL, Count of Tripoli, 
according to which he was to induce his followers to abandon the 
Christian faith and go over to the Musalmans ; but the sudden 
death of the Count effectually put a stop to the execution of this 
scheme. 4 

The fall of Jerusalem and the successes of Saladin in the Holy 
Land stirred up Europe to undertake the third Crusade, the chief 
incident of which was the siege of Acre (1 189-91, a.d.). The 
fearful sufferings that the Christian army was exposed to, from 
famine and disease, drove many of them to desert and seek relief 
from the cravings of hunger in the Muslim camp. Of these 
deserters, many made their way back again after some time to the 
army of the Crusaders, on the other hand many elected to throw in 
their lot with the Musalmans ; some taking service under their 
former enemies, still remained true to the Christian faith and (we 
are told) were well pleased with their new masters, while others 
embracing Islam became good Musalmans. 5 The conversion of 
these deserters is recorded also by the chronicler who accom- 

' Bahau-d din, p. 25. 

J Roger Hoveden, vol. ii. p. 307. 

a Benedict of Peterborough, vol. ii. pp. 1 1-12. 

4 Benedict of Peterborough, vol. ii. pp. 20-21. 
Roger Hoveden, vol. ii. pp. 316, 322. 

5 Abu Shamah, p. 150. 

panied Richard I. upon this Crusade: "Some of our men 
(whose fate cannot be told or heard without grievous sorrow) 
yielding to the severity of the sore famine, in achieving the 
salvation of the body, incurred the damnation of their souls. For 
after the greater part of the affliction was past, they deserted and 
fled to the Turks : nor did they hesitate to become renegades ; 
in order that they might prolong their temporal life a little space, 
they purchased eternal death with horrid blasphemies. O baleful 
trafficking ! O shameful deed beyond all punishment ! O foolish 
man likened unto the foolish beasts, while he flees from the death 
that must inevitably come soon, he shuns not the death 
unending." 1 

From this time onwards references to renegades are not infre- 
quently to be met with in the writings of those who travelled to 
the Holy Land and other countries of the East. The terms of 
the oath which was proposed to St. Louis by his Muhammadan 
captors when he was called upon to promise to pay the ransom 
imposed upon him (a,d. 1250), were suggested by certain whilom 
priests who had become Muslims ; 2 and while this business of 
paying the ransom was still being carried on, another renegade, a 
Frenchman, born at Provins, came to bring a present to the king : 
he had accompanied King John of Jerusalem on his expedition 
against Damietta in 12 19 and had remained in Egypt, married a 
Muhammadan wife and become a great lord in that country. 3 
The danger of the pilgrims to the Holy Land becoming converts to 
Islam was so clearly recognised at this time that in a " Remem- 
brance," written about 1266 by Amaury de la Roche, the master 
of the Knights Templar in France, he requests the Pope and the 
legates of France and Sicily to prevent the poor and the aged 
and those incapable of bearing arms from crossing the sea to 
Palestine, for such persons either got killed or taken prisoners by 
the Saracens or turned renegades. 4 Ludolf de Suchem, who 
travelled in the Holy Land about 1350, speaks of three renegades 
he found at Hebron ; they had come from the diocese of Minden 
and had been in the service of a Westphalian knight, who was 
held in high honour by the Soldan and other Muhammadan 

1 Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Richardi, p. 131. (Chronicles 
and Memorials of the reign of Richard I. Edited by William Stubbs.) 
(London, 1864). 2 Joinville, p. 238. 

3 Id. p. 262. * Mas Latrie (1), vol. ii. p. 72. 


princes. 1 The so-styled Sir John Mandevile, 2 who represents 
himself as having travelled in Palestine about the middle of the 
fourteenth century, makes mention of renegades, but does not tell 
us whether his remarks refer to members of the Eastern or the 
Western Church : " Also it befallethe sumtyme," he says, " that 
Cristene men becomen Sarazines, outher for povertee, or for 
symplenesse, or elles for here owne wykkednesse." He tells us 
also that the Sultan of Egypt, in whose service he claims to have 
spent several years, tried to persuade him to abandon his own 
u law and belief" and become a Muslim. 8 

These scattered notices are no doubt significant of more exten- 
sive conversions of Christians to Islam, of which no record has 
come down to us : e.g. there were said to be about 25,000 rene- 
gades in the city of Cairo towards the close of the fifteenth century, 4 
and there must have been many also to be found in the cities of 
the Holy Land after the disappearance of the Latin princedoms of 
the East. But the Muhammadan historians of this period seem 
to have been too busily engaged in recording the exploits of 
princes and the vicissitudes of dynasties, to turn their attention 
to religious changes in the lives of obscure individuals ; and (as 
far as I have been able to discover) they as little notice the 
conversions of Christians to Islam as of those of their own co- 
religionists to Christianity. Consequently, we have to depend for 
our knowledge of both of these classes of events on Christian 
writers, who, while they give us detailed and sympathetic 
accounts of the latter, bear unwilling testimony to the existence 
of instances of the former and represent the motives of the 
renegades in the worst light possible. The possibility of any 
Christian becoming converted to Islam from honest conviction, 
probably never entered into the head of any of these writers, and 
even had such an idea occurred to them they would hardly have 
ventured to expose themselves to the thunders of ecclesiastical 
censure by giving open expression to it. Even Sir John Man- 
devile, who claimed to have lived nearly half his life in Muham- 
madan countries and did not allow bigotry to influence his 
judgment on their faith, could only suggest that in the absence 

1 Ludolf de Suchem, p. 71. 

* J Mandevile, p. 141. 3 Id. p. 35. 

4 Lionardo Frescobaldi, quoted in the preface of Defreniery and Sanguinetti's 
edition of Ibn Batutah, vol. i. p. xl. 


of base motives, the Christian converts to Islam must have been 
simpletons ; if they were neither rogues nor starving, they must 
liave been fools. To estimate these accounts at their true value, 
we must remember that such was the attitude of mind of the 
Christian writers who recorded them. 

From the historical sources quoted above, we have as little 
information respecting the number of these converts as of the 
proselytising efforts made to induce them to change their faith. 
The monk Burchard, 1 writing about 1283, a few years before the 
Crusaders were driven out of their last strongholds and the Latin 
power in the East came utterly to an end, represents the 
Christian population as largely outnumbering the Muslims 
throughout the whole of the Muhammadan world, the latter 
^(except in Egypt and Arabia) forming not more than three or 
four per cent, of the whole population. This language is un- 
doubtedly exaggerated and the good monk was certainly rash in 
assuming that what he observed in the cities of the Crusaders 
and of the kingdom of Little Armenia held good in other parts 
of the East. But his words may be certainly taken to indicate 
that during the period of the Crusades there had been no wide- 
spread conversion to Islam, and that when the Muhammadans 
resumed their sovereignty over the Holy Land, they extended 
the same toleration to the Christians as before, suffering them to 
u purchase peace and quiet " by the payment of the jizyah. The 
presumption is that the conversions that took place were of 
individual Christians, who were persuaded in their own minds 
before ^they took the final step and were not forced thereto. 
Instances have already been given of Christians who took service 

1 " Notandum autem in rei veritate, licet quidam contrarium senciant, qui ea 
volunt asserere, que non viderunt, quod oriens totus ultra mare Yndiam et 
Ethiopians nomen Christi confitetur et predicat, preter solos Sarracenos et 
quosdam Turcomannos, qui in Cappadocia sedem habent, ita quod pro certo 
assero, si cut per memet ipsum vidi et ab aliis, quibus notum erat, audivi, quod 
semper in omni loco et regno preterquam in Egypto et Arabia, ubi plurimum 
habitant Sarraceni et alii Machometum sequentes, pro uno Sarraceno triginta vel 
amplius invenies Christianos. Verum tamen, quod Christiani omnes transmarini 
natione sunt orientales, qui licet sint Christiani, quia tamen usum armorum non 
habent multum, cum impugnantur a Sarracenis, Tartaris, vel aliis quibuscumque, 
subiciuntur eis et tributis pacem et quietem emunt, et Sarraceni sive alii, qui eis 
dominantur, balivos suos et exactores in terris illis ponunt. Et inde contigit, 
quod regnum illud dicitur esse Sarracenorum, cum tamen in rei veritate sunt 
omnes Christiani preter ipsos balivos et exactores et aliquos de familia ipsorum, 
sicut oculis meis vidi in Cilicia et Armenia minori, que est subdita dominio 
Tartarorum." (Burchardi de Monte Sion Descriptio Terrse Sanctse, p. 90.) 



under Muhammadan masters, in the full enjoyment of their own 
faith, and the Assises of Jerusalem make a distinction between 
" those who have denied God and follow another law " and " all 
those who have done armed service to the Sarracens and other 
miscreants against the Christians for more than a year and a 

The native Christians certainly preferred the rule of the 
Muhammadans to that of the Crusaders, 2 and when Jerusalem 
fell finally and for ever into the hands of the Muslims (a.d. 1 244), 
the Christian population of Palestine seems to have welcomed 
the new masters and to have submitted quietly and contentedly 
to their rule/ 5 

This same sense of security of religious life under Muslim rule 
led many of the Christians of Asia Minor, also, about the same 
time to welcome the advent of the Saljuq Turks as their deliverers 
from the hated Byzantine government, not only on account of 
its oppressive system of taxation, but also of the persecuting 
spirit of the Greek Church, which had with such cruelty crushed 
the heresies of the Paulicians and the Iconoclasts. In the reign 
of Michael VIII. (1 261 -1282), the Turks were often invited to 
take possession of the smaller towns in the interior of Asia Minor 
by the inhabitants, that they might escape from the tyranny of 
the empire ; and both rich and poor often emigrated into Turkish 
dominions. 4 

Some account still remains to be given of two other Christian 
churches of Western Asia, viz. the Armenian and the Georgian. 
Of the former it may be said that of all the Eastern churches that 
have come under Muhammadan rule, the Armenian church has 
probably given fewer of its members (in proportion to the size of 
the community) to swell the ranks of Islam, than any other. So 

1 Recueil des historiens des Croisades. Assises de Jerusalem, tome ii. p. 325. 

* Prutz, pp. 146-7, 150. 

1 The prelates of the Holy Land wrote as follows, in 1 244, concerning the 
invasion of the Khwarizmians, whom Sultan Ayyub had called in to assist him in 
driving out the Crusaders: "Per totam terrain usque ad partes Nazareth et 
Saphet libere nullo resistente discurrunt, occupantes eandem, et inter se quasi 
propriam dividentes, per villas et cazalia Christianoruin legatos et bajulos 
praeficiunt, suscipientes a rusticis redditus et tributa, quae Christianis pra 
solebant, qui jam Christianis hostes effect i et rebellcs dictis Corosminis univer- 
saliter adhaeserunt. " (Matthei Parisiensis Chronica Majora, ed. H. R. Luard, 
vol. iv. p. 343. (London, 1872-83.) 

4 Finlay, vol. iii. p. 358-9. (J. H. Krause : Die Byzantiner des Mittelalters, 
p. 276.) (Halle, 1869.) 


in spite of the interest that attaches to the story of the struggle 
of this brave nation against overwhelming odds and of the fidelity 
with which it has clung to the Christian faith through centuries 
of warfare and oppression, persecution and exile it does not 
come within the scope of the present volume to do more than 
briefly indicate its connection with the history of the Muham- 
madans. The Armenian kingdom survived the shock of the 
Arab conquest, and in the ninth century rose to be a state of 
some importance and flourished during the decay of the Caliphate 
of Baghdad, but in the eleventh century was overthrown by the 
Saljuq Turks. A band of fugitives founded the kingdom of Lesser 
Armenia, but this too disappeared in the fourteenth century. 
The national life of the Armenian people still survived in spite of 
the loss of their independence, and, as was the case in Greece 
under the Turks, their religion and the national church served as 
the rallying point of their eager, undying patriotism. Though a 
certain number no doubt embraced Islam, yet the bulk of the 
race has remained true to its ancient faith. As Tavernier 1 
rather unsympathetically remarks, " There may be some few 
Armenians, that embrace Mahometanism for worldly interest, but 
they are generally the most obstinate persons in the world, and 
most firm to their superstitious principles." 

The Georgian Church (founded in the early part of the fourth 
century) was an offshoot from the Greek Church, with which she 
has always remained in communion, although from the middle of 
the sixth century the Patriarch or Katholikos of the Georgian 
Church declared himself independent. 

Torn asunder by internal discords and exposed to the successive 
attacks of Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks and Mongols, the 
history of this heroic warrior people is one of almost uninter- 
rupted warfare against foreign foes and of fiercely contested feuds 
between native chiefs : the reigns of one or two powerful 
monarchs who secured for their subjects brief intervals of peace, 
serving only to bring out in more striking contrast the normally 
unsettled state of the country. The fierce independent spirit of 
the Georgians that could not brook a foreign rule has often 
exasperated well-nigh to madness the fury of their Muhammadan 
neighbours, when they failed to impose upon them either their 
civil authority or their religion. It is this circumstance that a 
1 Tavernier (1), p. 174. 
G 2 


change of faith implied loss of political independence which 
explains in a great measure the fact that the Georgian church 
inscribes the names of so many martyrs in her calendar, while the 
annals of the Greek church during the same period have no such 
honoured roll to show. 

It was not until after Georgia had been overrun by the devas- 
tating armies of the Mongols, leaving ruined churches and 
monasteries and pyramids of human heads to mark the progress 
of their destroying hosts, and consequently the spiritual wants of 
the people had remained long unprovided for, owing to the 
decline in the numbers and learning of the clergy that Chris- 
tianity began to lose ground. 1 Even among those who still 
remained Christian, some added to the sufferings of the clergy, 
by plundering the property of the Church and appropriating to 
their own use the revenues of churches and monasteries, and 
thus hastened the decay of the Christian faith. 2 

In 1400 the invasion of Timur added a crowning horror to the 
sufferings of Georgia, and though for a brief period the rule of 
Alexander I. (141 4- 1442) delivered the country from the foreign 
yoke and drove out all the Muhammadans, after his death it was 
again broken up into a number of petty princedoms, from which 
the Turks and the Persians wrested the last shreds of independ- 
ence. But the Muhammadans always found Georgia to be a 
turbulent and rebellious possession, ever ready to break out into 
open revolt at the slightest opportunity. Both Turks and 
Persians sought to secure the allegiance of these troublesome 
subjects by means of conversion to Islam. After the fall of 
Constantinople and the increase of Turkish power in Asia Minor, 
the inhabitants of Akhaltsikhe' and other districts to the west of 
it became Muhammadans. 3 In 1579 two Georgian princes 
brothers came on an embassy to Constantinople with a large 
retinue of about two hundred persons : here the younger brother 
together with his attendants became a Musalman, in the hope (it 
was said) of thereby supplanting his elder brother. 4 At a rather 
later date, the conquests of the Turks brought some of the 
districts in the very centre of Georgia into their power, the 

1 Joselian, p. 125. All the Ap'hkhazes, Djikhethes, Ossetes, Kabardes and 
Kisthethes fell away from the Christian faith about this time. 

3 Id. p. 127. 3 Id. p. 143. 4 David Chytrceus, p. 49. 


inhabitants of which embraced the creed of the conquerors. 1 
From this period Samtzkhe, the most western portion of Georgia, 
recognised the suzerainty of Turkey : its rulers and people were 
allowed to continue undisturbed in the Christian faith, but from 
1625 the ruling dynasty became Muhammadan and gradually all 
the chiefs and the aristocracy followed their example. 

Christianity retained its hold upon the peasants much longer, 
but whei the clergy of Samtzkhe refused allegiance to the 
Katholikos of Karthli, there ceased to be regular provision made 
for supplying the spiritual needs of the people : the nobles, even 
before their conversion, had taken to plundering the estates of 
the church, and after becoming Musalmans they naturally ceased 
to assist it with their offerings, and the churches and monasteries 
falling into decay were replaced by mosques. 2 

The rest of Georgia had submitted to Persia, and when 
Tavernier visited this part of the country, about the middle of the 
seventeenth century, he found it divided into two kingdoms, 
which were provinces of the Persian empire, and were governed 
by native Georgian princes who had to turn Muhammadan before 
being advanced to this dignity. 3 One of the first of such princes 
was the Tsarevitch Constantine, son of king Alexander II. of 
Kakheth, who had been brought up at the Persian court and 
had there embraced Islam, at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century. 4 The first Muhammadan king of Karthli, the Tsarevitch 
Rustam (1634-1658), had also been brought up in Persia and 
he and his successors to the end of the century were all 
Muhammadans. 5 

Tavernier describes the Georgians as being very ignorant in 
matters of religion and the clergy as unlettered and vicious ; 
some of the heads of the church actually sold the Christian boys 
and girls as slaves to the Turks and Persians. 6 From this period 
there seems to have been a widespread apostacy, especially 
among the higher classes and those who sought to win the favour 

1 Joselian, p. 157. 

3 Brosset, II e . Partie, I re livraison, pp. 227-235. Description geographique 
de la Georgie par le Tsarevitch Wakhoucht, p. 79. (St. Petersburg, 1842.) 

3 The Six Voyages, p. 123. 

4 Joselian, p. 149. 

5 Id. pp. 160-161. 

6 Tavernier (1), pp. 124, 126. He estimates the number of Muhammadans at 
about twelve thousand. (Id. p. 123.) 


of the Persian court. 1 In 1703 the occupant of the throne of 
Karthli, Wakhtang V., was a Christian : for the first seven years 
of his reign he was a prisoner in Ispahan, where great efforts 
were made to induce him to become a Muhammadan ; when he 
declared that he preferred to lose his throne rather than purchase 
it at the price of apostacy, it is said that his younger brother, 
although he was the Patriarch of Georgia, offered to abandon 
Christianity and embrace Islam, if the crown were bestowed upon 
him, but though invested by the Persians with the royal power, 
the Georgians refused to accept him as their ruler, and drove him 
out of the kingdom. 3 

Towards the close of the eighteenth century, the king of 
Georgia placed his people under the protection of the Russian 
crown. Hitherto their intense patriotic feeling had helped to 
keep the Christian faith alive among them so long as their 
foreign invaders had been Musalmans, but now that the foreign 
power that sought to rob them of their independence was 
Christian, this same feeling operated in some of the districts 
north of the Caucasus to the advantage of Islam. In Daghistan 
a certain Darwesh Mansur endeavoured to unite the different 
tribes of the Caucasus to oppose the Russians ; preaching the 
faith of Islam he succeeded in converting the princes and nobles 
of Ubichistan and Daghistan, who have remained faithful to 
Islam ever since ; many of the Circassians, too, were converted by 
his preaching, and preferred exile to submitting to the Russian 
rule. 3 But in 1791 he was taken prisoner, and in 1800 Georgia 
was formally incorporated in the Russian empire. 

1 Brosset, IK Partie, I re livraison, pp. 85, 181. 

2 Documens originaux sur les relations diplomatiques de la Georgie avec la 
France vers la fin du regne de Louis XIV., recueillis par M. Brosset jeune. (J. A. 
2 m Srie, tome ix. (1832), pp. 197, 451.) 

Mackenzie, p. 7. Garnett, p. 194. In 1864 more than half a million 
Muhammadan Circassians migrated into Turkish territory. 



Islam was first introduced into Africa by the Arab army that 
invaded Egypt under the command of J Amr ibnu-1 'Ass in 640 a.d. 
Three years later the withdrawal of the Byzantine troops aban- 
doned the vast Christian population into the hands of the Muslim 
conquerors. The rapid success of the Arab invaders was largely 
due to the welcome they received from the native Christians, 
who hated the Byzantine rule not only for its oppressive adminis- 
tration, but also and chiefly on account of the bitterness of 
theological rancour. The Jacobites, who formed the majority of 
the Christian population, had been very roughly handled by the 
orthodox adherents of the court and subjected to indignities that 
have not been forgotten by their children even to the present 
day. 1 Some were tortured and then thrown into the sea ; many 
followed their Patriarch into exile to escape from the hands of 
their persecutors, while a large number disguised their real 
opinions under a pretended acceptance of the Council of Chal- 
cedon. 2 To these Copts, as the Jacobite Christians of Egypt are 
called, the Muhammadan conquest brought a freedom of religious 
life such as they had not enjoyed for a century. On payment of 
the tribute, 'Amr left them in undisturbed possession of their 
churches and guaranteed to them autonomy in all ecclesiastical 
matters, thus delivering them from the continual interference 
that had been so grievous a burden under the previous rule ; he 
laid his hands on none of the property of the churches and com- 

1 Amelineau, p. 3. Justinian is said to have had 200,000 Copts put to death in 
the city of Alexandria, and the persecutions of his successors drove many to take 
refuge in the desert. (Wansleben : The Present State of Egypt, p. 11.) 
(London, 1678.) 

2 Renaudot, p. 161. 


mitted no act of spoliation or pillage. 1 In the early days of the 
Muhammadan rule then, the condition of the Copts seems to 
have been fairly tolerable, 3 and there is no evidence of their 
widespread apostacy to Islam being due to persecution or unjust 
pressure on the part of their new rulers. Even before the con- 
quest was complete, while the capital, Alexandria, still held out, 
many of them went over to Islam, 8 and a few years later the 
example these had set was followed by many others. 4 In the 
reign of 'Uthman (643-655 a.d.), the revenue derived from 
Egypt amounted to twelve millions ; a few years later, in the 
reign of Mu'awiyah (661-679), it nac * fallen to five millions 
owing to the enormous number of conversions ; under 'Umar II. 
(717-720) it fell still lower, so that the governor of Egypt pro- 
posed that in future the converts should not be exempted from 
the payment of the capitation-tax, but this the pious caliph 
refused to allow, saying, " I should be glad if all the Christians 
became Muslims, for God sent His Prophet to be an apostle to 
men and not a collector of taxes ! " 6 In fact many of the 
Christians of Egypt seem to have abandoned Christianity as 
lightly and as rapidly as, in the beginning of the fourth century, 
they had embraced it. Prior to that period, a very small section 
of the population of the valley of the Nile was Christian, but the 
sufferings of the martyrs in the persecution of Diocletian, the 
stories of the miracles they performed, the national feeling excited 
by the sense of their opposition to the dictates of the foreign 
government, 6 the assurance that a paradise of delights was opened 
to the martyr who died under the hands of his tormentors, all 
these things stirred up an enthusiasm that resulted in an 

1 John, Jacobite bishop of Nikiu (second half of seventh century), p. 584. 

2 But the exactions and hardships that, according to Maqrizi, the Copts had to 
endure about seventy years after the conquest, hardly allow us to extend this period 
so far as Von Ranke does : " Von Aegypten weiss man durch die bestimmtesten 
Zeugnisse, dass sich die Einwohner in den nachsten Jahrhunderten unter der 
arabischen Herrschaft in einem ertriiglichen Zustand befunden liaben." (Welt- 
geschichte, vol. v. p. 153. 4th ed.) 

* John of Nikiu, p. 560. 

4 Id. p. 585. "Or beaucoup des gyptiens, qui etaient de faux chretiens, 
renierent la sainte religion orthodoxe et le bapteme qui donne la vie, embrasserent 
la religion des Musulmans, les ennemis de Dieu, et accepterent la detestable 
doctrine de ce monstre, c'est-a-dire de Mahomet ; ils partagcrent l'egarement de 
ces idolatres et prirent les armes contre les chretiens." 

8 Dozy (2), tome i. p. 225. 

6 " Sans aucun doute il y eut dans la multiplicite des martyrs une sorte de resis- 
tance nationale contre les gouverneurs etrangers." AmeUineau, p. 58. 


incredibly rapid spread of the Christian faith. " Instead of being 
converted by preaching, as the other countries of the East were, 
Egypt embraced Christianity in a fit of wild enthusiasm, without 
any preaching, or instruction being given, with hardly any know- 
ledge of the new religion beyond the name of Jesus, the Messiah, 
who bestowed a life of eternal happiness on all who confessed 
Him." 1 

In the seventh century Christianity had probably very little hold 
on a great mass of the people of Egypt. The theological catch- 
words that their leaders made use of, to stir up in them feelings 
of hatred and opposition to the Byzantine government, could 
have been intelligible to a very few, and the rapid spread of Islam 
in the early days of the Arab occupation was probably due less to 
definite efforts to attract than to the inability of such a Christianity 
to retain. The theological basis for the existence of the Jacobites 
as a separate sect, the tenets that they had so long and at so great 
a cost struggled to maintain, were embodied in doctrines of the 
most abstruse and metaphysical character, and many doubtless 
turned in utter perplexity and weariness from the interminable con- 
troversies that raged around them, to a faith that was summed up 
in the simple, intelligible truth of the Unity of God and the mission 
of His Prophet, Muhammad. Even within the Coptic church 
itself at a later period, we find evidence of a movement which, 
if not distinctly Muslim, was at least closely allied thereto, and in 
the absence of any separate ecclesiastical organisation in which it 
might 'find expression, probably contributed to the increase of the 
converts to Islam. In the beginning of the twelfth century, there 
was in the monastery of St. Anthony (near Itfih on the Nile), a 
monk named Balutus, " learned in the doctrines of the Christian 
religion and the duties of the monastic life, and skilled in the 
rules of the canon-law. But Satan caught hirn in one of his nets ; 
for he began to hold opinions at variance with those taught by 
the Three Hundred and Eighteen (of Nicaea) ; and he corrupted 
the minds of many of those who had no knowledge or instruction 
in the orthodox faith. He announced with his impure mouth, in 
his wicked discourses, that Christ our Lord to Whom be glory 
was like one of the prophets. He associated with the lowest 
among the followers of his religion, clothed as he was in the 
monastic habit. When he was questioned as to his religion and 
1 Amelineau, p. 57-8. 


his creed, he professed himself a believer in the Unity of God. 
His doctrines prevailed during a period which ended in the year 
839 of the Righteous Martyrs (a.d. 1123) ; then he died, and his 
memory was cut off for ever." x 

Further, a theory of the Christian life that found its highest 
expression in asceticism of the grossest type 2 could offer little 
attraction, in the face of the more human morality of Islam. 8 On 
account of the large numbers of Copts that from time to time 
have become Muhammadans, they have come to be considered 
by the followers of the Prophet as much more inclined to the 
faith of Islam than any other Christian sect, and though they 
have had to endure the most severe oppression and persecution 
on many occasions, yet the Copts that have been thus driven to 
abandon their faith are said to have been few in comparison with 
those who have changed their religion voluntarily, 4 and even in 
the present day, when Egypt is said to be the most tolerant of all 
Muhammadan countries, there are yearly conversions of the 
Copts to the Muslim faith. 5 Still, persecution and oppression 
have undoubtedly played a very large part in the reduction of the 
numbers of the Copts, and the story of the sufferings of the 
Jacobite church of Egypt, persecuted alike by their fellow 
Christians 6 and by the followers of the dominant faith, is a very 
sad one, and many abandoned the religion of their fathers in order 
to escape from burdensome taxes and unendurable indignities. 
The vast difference in this respect between their condition and 
that of the Christians of Syria, Palestine and Spain at the same 
period finds its explanation in the turbulent character of the Copts 
themselves. Their long struggle against the civil and theological 

1 Abu alib, pp. 163-4. 2 Amlineau, pp. 53-4, 69-70. 

3 Abu alih gives an account of some monks that embraced the faith of the 
Prophet, and these are probably representative of a larger number of whom the 
historian has left no record, as lacking the peculiar circumstances of loss to the 
monastery or of recantation that made such instances of interest to him (pp. 128, 

4 Lane, pp. 546, 549. 

6 Liittke (1), vol. i. pp. 30, 35. 

One of the very first occasions on which they had to<complain of excessive 
taxation, was when Menas, the Christian prefect of Lower Es.-ypt, extorted from 
the city of Alexandria, 32057 pieces of gold, instead of 22000 which 'Amr had 
fixed as the amount to be levied. (John of Nikiu, p. 585.) Renaudot (p. 168) says 
that after the restoration of the Orthodox hierarchy, about seventy years after the 
Muhammadan conquest, the Copts suffered as much at its hands as at the hands of 
the Muhammadans themselves. 


despotism of Byzantium seems to have welded the zealots into a 
national party that could as little brook the foreign rule of the 
Arabs as, before, that of the Greeks. The rising of the Copts 
against their new masters in 646, when they drove the Arabs for 
a time out of Alexandria and opened the gates of the city to the 
Byzantine troops (who however treated the unfortunate Copts as 
enemies, not having yet forgotten the welcome they had before 
given to the Muhammadan invaders), was the first of a long 
series of risings and insurrections, 1 excited frequently by excessive 
taxation which exposed them to terrible reprisals, and caused 
the lot of the Jacobite Christians of Egypt to be harder to bear 
than that of any other Christian sect in this or other countries 
under Muhammadan rule. But the history of these events belongs 
rather to a history of Muhammadan persecution and intolerance 
than to the scope of the present work. It must not however be 
supposed that the condition of the Copts was invariably that of a 
persecuted sect ; on the contrary there were times when they 
rose to positions of great affluence and importance in the state. 
They filled the posts of secretaries and scribes in the government 
offices, 2 farmed the taxes, 3 and in some cases amassed enormous 
wealth. 4 The annals of their church furnish us with many 
instances of ecclesiastics who were held in high favour and consi- 
deration by the reigning princes of the country, under the rule of 
many of whom the Christians enjoyed the utmost tranquillity. 5 
To such a period of the peace of the church belongs an incident 
that led to the absorption of many Christians into the body of 
the faithful. 

During the reign of Salahu-d din (Saladin) (11 69-1 193), over 
Egypt, the condition of the Christians was very happy under the 
auspices of this tolerant ruler ; the taxes that had been imposed 
upon them were lightened and several swept away altogether 
they crowded into the public offices as secretaries, accountants 
and registrars ; and for nearly a century under the successors of 

1 Maqnzi mentions five other risings of the Copts that had to be crushed by 
force of arms, within the first century of the Arab domination. Maqnzi (2), 
pp. 76-82. 

' Renaudot, pp. 189, 374, 430, 540. 3 Id. p. 603. 

4 Id. pp. 432, 607. Sefer Nameh. Relation du Voyage de Nassiri 
Khosrau, pendant les annees de l'Hegire 437.444 (1035-1042), publie par 
Charles Schefer, pp. 155-6, (Paris 1 88 1.) 

Renaudot, pp. 212, 225, 314, 374, 540. 


Saladin, they enjoyed the same toleration and favour, and had 
nothing to complain of except the corruption and degeneracy of 
their own clergy. Simony had become terribly rife among them ; 
the priesthood was sold to ignorant and vicious persons, while 
postulants for the sacred office who were unable to pay the sums 
demanded for ordination, were repulsed with scorn, in spite of 
their being worthy and fit persons. The consequence was that 
the spiritual and moral training of the people was utterly neglected 
and there was a lamentable decay of the Christian life. 1 So corrupt 
had the church become that, when, on the death of John, the 
seventy-fourth Patriarch of the Jacobites, in 1216, a successor was 
to be elected, the contending parties who pushed the claims of 
rival candidates, kept up a fierce and irreconcilable dispute for 
nearly twenty years, and all this time cared less for the grievous 
scandal and the harmful consequences of their shameless quarrels 
than for the maintenance of their dogged and obstinately factious 
spirit. On more than one occasion the reigning sultan tried to 
make peace between the contending parties, refused the enormous 
bribes of three, five, and even ten thousand gold pieces that were 
offered in order to induce him to secure the election of one of the 
candidates by the pressure of official influence, and even offered to 
remit the fee that it was customary for a newly-elected Patriarch 
to pay, if only they would put aside their disputes and come to 
some agreement, but all to no purpose. Meanwhile many 
episcopal sees fell vacant and there was no one to take the place 
of the bishops and priests that died in this interval ; in the 
monastery of St. Macarius alone there were only four priests left 
as compared with over eighty under the last Patriarch. 2 So 
utterly neglected were the Christians of the western dioceses, that 
they all became Musalmans. 3 To this bald statement of the 
historian of the Coptic church, we unfortunately have no infor- 
mation to add, of the positive efforts made by the Musalmans to 
bring these Christians over to their faith. That such there were, 

1 Renaudot, p. 388. 

2 Id. pp. 567, 571, 574-5. 

3 Wansleben, p. 30. Wansleben mentions another instance (under different 
circumstances) of the decay of the Coptic Church, in the island of Cyprus, which 
was formerly under the jurisdiction of the Coptic Patriarch : here they were so 
persecuted by the Orthodox clergy, who enjoyed the protection of the Byzantine 
emperors, that the Patriarch could not induce priests to go there, and consequently 
all the Copts on the island either accepted Islam or the Council of Chalcedon, 
and their churches were all shut up. (Id. p. 31.) 


there can be very little doubt, especially as we know that the 
Christians held public disputations and engaged in written con- 
troversies on the respective merits of the rival creeds. 1 That 
these conversions were not due to persecution, we know from 
direct historical evidence that during this vacancy of the patriar- 
chate, the Christians had full and complete freedom of public 
worship, were allowed to restore their churches and even to build 
new ones, were freed from the restrictions that forbade them to 
ride on horses or mules, and were tried in law-courts of their own, 
while the monks were exempted from the payment of tribute and 
granted certain privileges. 2 

How far this incident is a typical case of conversion to Islam 
among the Copts, it is difficult to say ; a parallel case of neglect 
is mentioned by two Capuchin missionaries who travelled up the 
Nile to Luxor in the seventeenth century, where they found that 
the Copts of Luxor had no priest, and some of them had not gone 
to confession or communion for fifty years. 3 Under such circum- 
stances the decay of their numbers can readily be understood. 

A similar neglect lost to Christianity the Nubian church which 
recognised the primacy of the Jacobite Patriarch of Alexandria, 
as do the Abyssinians to the present day. The Nubians had been 
converted to Christianity about the middle of the sixth century, 
and retained their independence when Egypt was conquered by 
the Arabs ; a treaty was made according to which the Nubians 
were to send every year three hundred black slaves, ten monkeys 
and one giraffe, while the Arabs were to furnish them with corn, oil 
and raiment. In the reign of Al Mu'tasim (833-842), ambassadors 
were sent by the Caliph renewing this treaty, and the king of 
Nubia visited the capital where he was received with great 
magnificence and dismissed with costly presents. 4 In the twelfth 
century they were still all Christian, 5 and retained their old 
independence in spite of the frequent expeditions sent against 
them from Egypt. 6 In 1275 the nephew of the then king of 
Nubia obtained from the Sultan of Egypt a body of troops to 
assist him in his revolt against his uncle, whom he by their help 

1 Renaudot, p. 377. 2 j^. p. 575. 

* Relation du voyage du Sayd ou de la Thebayde fait en 1668, par les PP. 
Protais et Charles- Francois d'Orleans, Capuchins Missionaires, p. 3. (Thevenot, 
vol. ii.) 

4 Chronique de Michel le Grand, pp. 272-3. 

* Idrisi, p. 32. 6 MaqrizI (2), tome i. 2 m partie, p. 131. 


succeeded in deposing ; in return for this assistance he had to 
cede the two northernmost provinces of Nubia to the Sultan, and 
as the inhabitants elected to retain their Christian faith, an annual 
tribute of one dinar for each male was imposed upon them. 1 But 
this Muhammadan overlordship was temporary only, and the 
Nubians of the ceded provinces soon re-asserted their inde- 
pendence. 2 

In the latter half of the fourteenth century Ibn Ba^utah s tells us 
that the Nubians were still Christians, though the king of their chief 
city, Dongola, 4 had embraced Islam in the reign of Nasir (probably 
Nasir ibn Qalaun, one of the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt, who died 
1340 a.d.) ; the repeated expeditions of the Muslims so late as the 
fifteenth century had not succeeded in pushing their conquests 
south of the first cataract, near which was their last fortified place, 5 
while Christianity seems to have extended as far up the Nile as 
Sennaar. But it is probable that the progress of Islam in the 
country was all this time being promoted by the Muhammadan 
merchants and others that frequented it. Maqrlzi (writing in the 
early part of the fifteenth century) quotes one of those missionary 
anecdotes which occur so rarely in the works of Arabic authors ; 
it is told by Ibn Salimu-1 Aswani, and is of interest as giving us a 
living picture of the Muslim propagandist at work. Though the 
convert referred to is neither a Christian nor a Nubian, still the 
story shows that there was such a thing as conversion to Islam 
in Nubia in the fifteenth century. Ibn Salim says that he once 
met a man at the court of the Nubian chief of Muqurrah, who 
told him that he came from a city that lay three months' journey 
from the Nile. When asked about his religion, he replied, " My 
Creator and thy Creator is God ; the Creator of the universe and 
of all men is One, and His dwelling-place is in heaven." When 
there was a dearth of rain, or when pestilence attacked them or 

1 Maqrlzi, pp. 1 28- 1 30. 

2 Burckhardt (1), p. 494. * Vol. iv. p. 396. 

4 Slatin Pasha records a tradition current among the Danagla Arabs th at this 
town was founded by their ancestor, Dangal, who called it after his own name. 
(This however is impossible, inasmuch as Dongola was in existence in ancient 
Egyptian times, and is mentioned on the monuments. See Vivien de Saint- 
Martin, vol. ii. p. 85.) According to their tradition, this Dangal, though a slave, 
rose to be ruler of Nubia, but paid tribute to Bahnesa, the Coptic bishop of the 
entire district lying between the present Sarras and Debba. (Fire and Sword in 
he Sudan, p. 13.) (London, 1896.) 

6 Ibn Salimu-1 Aswani, quoted by MaqrizI : Kitabu-1 Khitat, vol. i. p. 190. 
(Cairo 1270, A.H.) 


their cattle, his fellow-countrymen would climb up a high moun- 
tain and there pray to God, who accepted their prayers and 
supplied their needs before even they came down again. When 
he acknowledged that God had never sent them a prophet, Ibn 
Salim recounted to him the story of the prophets Moses and Jesus 
and Muhammad, and how by the help of God they had been 
enabled to perform many miracles. And he answered, " The 
truth must indeed have been with them, when they did these 
things ; and if they performed these deeds, I believe in them." 1 

Very slowly and gradually the Nubians seem to have drifted 
from Christianity into Muhammadanism. The spiritual life of 
their church had sunk to the lowest ebb, and as no movement of 
reform sprang up in their midst, and as they had lost touch with 
the Christian churches beyond their borders, it was only natural 
that they should seek for an expression of their spiritual aspira- 
tions in the religion of Islam, whose followers had so long borne 
witness to its living power among them, and had already won 
over some of their countrymen to the acceptance of it. A Portu- 
guese priest, who travelled in Abyssinia from 1 520-1 527, has 
preserved for us a picture of the Nubians in this state of tran- 
sition ; he says that they were neither Christians, Jews nor 
Muhammadans, but had come to be without faith and without 
laws ; but still " they lived with the desire of being Christians." 
Through the fault of their clergy they had sunk into the grossest 
ignorance, and now there were no bishops or priests left among 
them ; accordingly they sent an embassy of six men to the King 
of Abyssinia, praying him to send priests and monks to instruct 
them, but this the king refused to do without the permission of 
the Patriarch of Alexandria, and as this could not be obtained, 
the unfortunate ambassadors returned unsuccessful to their own 
country. 2 The same writer was informed by a Christian who had 
travelled in Nubia, that he had found 150 churches there, in each 
of which were still to be seen the figures of the crucified Christ,, 
of the Virgin Mary, and other saints painted on the walls. In all 
the fortresses, also, that were scattered throughout the country,, 

1 Maqrizi: Kitabu-1 Kh,itat, vol. i. p. 193. 

2 Lord Stanley of Alderley in his translation of Alvarez' Narrative from the 
original Portuguese, gives the answer of the king as follows : " he said to them 
that he had his Abima from the country of the Moors, that is to say from the 
Patriarch of Alexandria; .... how then could he give priests and friars since 
another gave them." (p. 352), (London, 1S81.) 


there were churches. 1 Before the close of the following century, 
Christianity had entirely disappeared from Nubia "for want of 
pastors," but the closed churches were to be found still standing 
throughout the whole country. 2 The Nubians had yielded to the 
powerful Muhammadan influences that surrounded them, to which 
the proselytising efforts of the Muslims who had travelled in 
Nubia for centuries past no doubt contributed a great deal ; on 
the north were Egypt and the Arab tribes that had made their 
way up the Nile and extended their authority along the banks of 
that river ; 3 on the south, the Muhammadan state of the Belloos, 
separating them from Abyssinia. These Belloos, in the early part 
of the sixteenth century, were, in spite of their Muslim faith, 
tributaries of the Christian king of Abyssinia 4 ; and if they may 
be identified with the Baliyun, who, together with their neighbours, 
the Bajah (the inhabitants of the so-called island of Meroe), are 
spoken of by Idrisi, in the twelfth century, as being Jacobite 
Christians, 5 it is probable that they had only a few years before 
been converted to Islam, at the same time as the Bajah, who had 
been incorporated into the Muhammadan empire of the Funj, 
when these latter extended their conquests in 1499-1530 from the 
south up to the borders of Nubia and Abyssinia and founded the 
powerful state of Sennaar. When the army of Ahmad Gragne 
invaded Abyssinia and made its way right through the country 
from south to north, it effected a junction about 1534 w i tn tne 
army of the Sultan of Maseggia or Mazaga, a province under 
Muhammadan rule but tributary to Abyssinia, lying between that 
country and Sennaar ; in the army of this Sultan there were 
15,000 Nubian soldiers who, from the account given of them, 
appear to have been Musalmans. 6 Fragmentary and insufficient 
as these data of the conversion of the Nubians are, we may cer- 
tainly conclude from all we know of the independent character 
of this people and the tenacity with which they clung to the 
Christian faith, so long as it was a living force among them, that 
their change of religion was a voluntary one and could never 
have been forced upon them by pressure from without. 

Let us now pass to the history of Islam among the Abyssinians, 

1 Viaggio nella Ethiopia al Pretc Ianni fatto par Don Francesco Alvarez 
Portughese (1520- 1 527). (Ramusio, torn. i. pp. 200, 250.) 

3 Wansleben, p. 30. J Burckhardt (1), p. 133. 

4 Alvarez, p. 250. 6 Idrisi, p. 32. 
6 Nerazzini, p. 157, etc. 


who had received Christianity two centuries before the Nubians, 
and like them belonged to the Jacobite church. 

The tide of Arab emigration does not seem to have set across 
the Red Sea, the western shores of which formed part of the 
Abyssinian kingdom, until many centuries after Arabia had 
accepted the faith of the Prophet. Up to the tenth century only 
a few Muhammadan families were to be found residing in the 
coast towns of Abyssinia, but at the end of the twelfth century the 
foundation of an Arab dynasty alienated some of the coast-lands 
from the Abyssinian kingdom. In 1300 a missionary, named 
Abu 'Abdu-llah Muhammad, made his way into Abyssinia, calling 
on the people to embrace Islam, and in the following year, having 
collected around him 200,000 men, he attacked the ruler of 
Amhara in several engagements. 1 At the close of the same 
century the disturbed state of the country, owing to the civil 
wars that distracted it, made it possible for the various Arab 
settlements along the coast to make themselves masters of the 
entire sea-board and drive the Abyssinians into the interior. In 
the early part of the sixteenth century, while the powerful Muham- 
madan kingdom of Adel, between Abyssinia and the southern 
extremity of the Red Sea, and some others were bitterly hostile 
to the Christian power, there were others again that formed 
peaceful tributaries of " Prester John " ; e.g. in Massowah there 
were Arabs who kept the flocks of the Abyssinian seigniors, 
wandering about in bands of thirty or forty with their wives and 
children, each band having its Christian "captain." 3 Some 
Musalmans are also mentioned as being in the service of the king 
and being entrusted by him with important posts ; 3 while some 
of these remained faithful to Islam, others embraced the prevailing 
religion of the country. What was implied in the fact of these 
Muhammadan communities being tributaries of the king of 
Abyssinia, it is difficult to determine. The Musalmans of Adia 
had along with other tribute to give up every year to the king a 
maiden who had to become a Christian ; this custom was in 
accordance with an ancient treaty, which the king of Abyssinia 
has always made them observe, " because he was the stronger " ; 
besides this, they were forbidden to carry arms or put on war- 

1 Maqrfzi (2), tome ii. 2 me partie, p. 183. 

2 Alvarez. (Ramusio, torn. i. pp. 218, 242, 249.) 

3 Nerazzini, pp. 33, 82. 


apparel, and if they rode, their horses were not to be saddled ; 
"these orders," they said, "we have always obeyed, so that the 
king may not put us to death and burn our mosques. Every 
year the king sends his people to fetch the maiden ; we take and 
wash her, and putting her on a bed, cover her with a cloth ; then 
we carry her to the door of the house and chant the prayers for 
the dead over her and give her up to the people of the king ; and 
thus did our fathers and our grandfathers before us." 1 

These Muhammadan tributaries were chiefly to be found in 
the low-lying countries that formed the northern boundary of 
Abyssinia, from the Red Sea westward to Sennaar, 2 and on the 
south and the south-east of the kingdom. 3 What influence these 
Muhammadans had on the Christian populations with which they 
were intermingled, and whether they made converts to Islam as 
in the present century, is matter only of conjecture. Certain it 
is, however, that when the independent Muhammadan ruler of 
Adel, Ahmad Gragne himself said to have been the son of a 
Christian priest of Aijjo, who had left his own country and 
adopted Islam in that of the Adels 4 invaded Abyssinia from 1528 
to 1543, many Abyssinian chiefs with their followers joined his 
victorious army and became Musalmans, and though the Christian 
populations of some districts preferred to pay tribute, 5 others 
embraced the religion of the conqueror. 6 But the contemporary 
Muslim historian himself tells us that in some cases this conversion 
was the result of fear, and that suspicions were entertained of the 
genuineness of the allegiance of the new converts. 7 But such 
apparently was not universally the case, and the widespread 
character of the conversions in several districts give the impression 
of a popular movement. The Christian chiefs who went over to 
Islam undoubtedly did so of their own free will, and could only 
have made use of their personal influence and the arts of per- 
suasion in inducing their troops to follow their example. They 
were, as we are told, in some cases very ignorant of their own 
religion, 8 and thus the change of faith was a less difficult matter. 
Particularly instrumental in conversions of this kind were those 
Muhammadan chiefs who had previously entered the service of 

1 Nerazzini, p. 127. 2 Id. pp. 154-5. 

a Id. pp. ii, 14, 5?., 127. 4 Plowden, p. 36. 

6 Nerazzini, pp. 155, 166, 172. 6 Id. passim. 

7 Id. pp. 73. **4, 113. Id. p. 74. 



the king of Abyssinia, and those renegades who took the oppor- 
tunity of the invasion of the country by a conquering Musalman 
army to throw off their allegiance at once to Christianity and 
the Christian king and declare themselves Muhammadans once 
more. 1 

One of these in 1531 wrote the following letter to Ahmad 
Gragne : "I was formerly a Musalman, was taken prisoner and 
made a Christian by force ; but in my heart I have always clung 
to the religion of Islam ; now I throw myself at thy feet and at 
the feet of the religion of Muhammad. Accept my confession 
and forget the past, for I return to thee and to my God. The 
soldiers that are under me belong to the king of Abyssinia, but 
with care I shall gradually succeed in inducing them to become 
Musalmans " ; and in fact the greater part of his army elected to 
follow their general ; including the women and children their 
numbers are said to have amounted to 20,000 souls. 2 

But with the help of the Portuguese, the Abyssinians succeeded 
in shaking off the yoke of their Muhammadan conquerors and 
Ahmad Gragne himself was slain in 1543. Islam had however 
.gained a footing in the country, which the troublous condition of 
affairs during the remainder of the sixteenth and the following 
century enabled it to retain, the rival Christian churches being 
too busily engaged in contending with one another, to devote 
much attention to their common enemy. For the successful 
proselytising of the Jesuits and other Roman Catholic missionaries 
and the active interference of the Portuguese in all civil and 
political matters, excited violent opposition in the mass of the 
Abyssinian Christians ; indeed so bitter was this feeling that 
some of the chiefs openly declared that they would rather submit 
to a Muhammadan ruler than continue their alliance with the 
Portuguese ; 8 and the semi-religious, semi-patriotic movement 
set on foot thereby, rapidly assumed such vast proportions as to 
lead (about 1632) to the expulsion of the Portuguese and the 
exclusion of all foreign Christians from the country. The con- 
dition of Abyssinia then speedily became one of terrible confusion 
and anarchy, of which some tribes of the Galla race took advantage, 

Nerazzini, pp. 17, 49, 77, m, 160. 2 Id. p. 76-8. 

3 Iobi Ludolfi ad suam Historiam. ^Ethiopicam Commentarius, p. 474. 
< Frankfurt a. M. 1 691.) 

H 2 


to thrust their way right into the very centre of the country, 
where their settlements remain to the present day. 

The progress achieved by Islam during this period may be 
estimated from the testimony of a traveller of the seventeenth 
century, who tells us that in his time the adherents of this faith 
were scattered throughout the whole of Abyssinia and formed a 
third of the entire population. 1 During the following century 
the faith of the Prophet seems steadily to have increased by means 
of the conversion of isolated individuals here and there. The 
absence of any strong central government in the country favoured 
the rise of petty independent chieftains, many of whom had strong 
Muhammadan sympathies, though (in accordance with a funda- 
mental law of the state) all the Abyssinian princes must belong to 
the Christian faith ; the Muhammadans, too, aspiring to the dignity 
of the Abyssinian aristocracy, abjured the faith in which they had 
been born and pretended conversion to Christianity in order to 
get themselves enrolled in the order of the nobles, and as 
governors of Christian provinces made use of all their influence 
towards the spread of Islam. 2 One of the chief reasons of the 
success of this faith seems to have been the moral superiority of 
the Muslims as compared with that of the Christian population of 
Abyssinia. Riippell says that he frequently noticed in the course 
of his travels in Abyssinia that when a post had to be filled which 
required that a thoroughly honest and trustworthy person should 
be selected, the choice always fell upon a Muhammadan. In 
comparison with the Christians, he says that they were more 
active and energetic ; that every Muhammadan had his sons 
taught to read and write, whereas Christian children were only 
educated when they were intended for the priesthood. 8 This 
moral superiority of the Muhammadans of Abyssinia over the 
Christian population goes far to explain the continuous though 
slow progress made by Islam during the last and present centuries ; 

1 Histoire de la Haute Ethiopie, par lc R. P. Manoel d'Almeida, p. 7* 
(Thevenot, vol. ii.) 

2 Massaja, vol. ii. pp. 205-6. "Ognuno comprende che movente di queste 
conversioni essendo la sete di regnare, nel fatto non si riducevano che ad una 
formalita esterna, restando poi i nuovi convertiti veri mussulmani nei cuori e net 
costumi. E perci6 accadeva che, elevati alia dignita di Ras, si circondavano di 
mussulmani, dando ad essi la maggior parte degli impieghi e colmandoli di titoli, 
ricchezze e favori : e cos\ PAbissinia cnstiana invasa e popolata da questa pessima, 
razza, passo coll'andar del tempo sotto il giogo dell' islamismo." (Id. p. 206.) 

Riippell, vol. i. pp. 328, 366. 


the degradation and apathy of the Abyssinian clergy and the 
interminable feuds of the Abyssinian chiefs, have left Muham- 
madan influences free to work undisturbed. Mr. Plowden, who 
was English consul in Abyssinia from 1844 to i860, speaking of 
the Hababs, a pastoral tribe dwelling between 16 and i73o' lat., 
to the north-west of Massowah, says that they have become 
Muhammadan u within the last 100 years, and all, save the latest 
generation, bear Christian names. They have changed their 
faith, through the constant influence of the Muhammadans with 
whom they trade, and through the gradual and now entire 
abandonment of the country by the Abyssinian chiefs, too much 
occupied in ceaseless wars with their neighbours." 1 Other sections 
of the population of the northern districts of the country were 
similarly converted to Islam during the same period, because the 
priests had abandoned these districts and the churches had been 
suffered to fall into ruins, apparently entirely through neglect, 
as the Muhammadans here are said to have been by no means 
fanatical nor to have borne any particular enmity to Christianity. 2 
Similar testimony to the progress of Islam in the early part of 
this century is given by other travellers, 3 who found numbers of 
Christians to be continually passing over to that faith. The 
Muhammadans were especially favoured by Ras Aly, one of the 
vice-regents of Abyssinia and practically master of the country 
before the accession of King Theodore in 1853. Though himself 
a Christian, he distributed posts and even the spoils of the churches 
among the followers of Islam, and during his reign one half of the 
population of the central provinces of Abyssinia embraced the 
faith of the Prophet. 4 Such deep roots has this faith now struck 
in Abyssinia that its followers have in their hands all the com- 
merce as well as all the petty trade of the country, enjoy vast 
possessions, are masters of large towns and central markets, and 
have a firm hold upon the mass of the people. Indeed, a Christian 
missionary who lived for thirty-five years in this country, rates 
the success and the zeal of the Muslim propagandists so high as to 
say that were another Ahmad Gragne to arise and unfurl the 
banner of the Prophet, the whole of Abyssinia would become 

1 Plowden, p. 15. 

2 Id. pp. 8-9. 

3 Beke, pp. 51-2. Isenberg, p. 36. 

4 Reclus, vol. x. p. 247. Massaja, vol. xi. p. 125. 


Muhammadan. 1 Embroilments with the Egyptian government 
(with which Abyssinia was at war from 1875 to 1882) brought 
about a revulsion of feeling against Muhammadanism : hatred of 
the foreign Muslim foe re-acted upon their co-religionists within 
the border. In 1878, King John II. summoned a Convocation of 
the Abyssinian clergy, who proclaimed him supreme arbiter in 
matters of faith and ordained that there should be but one religion 
throughout the whole kingdom. Christians of all sects other 
than the Jacobite were given two years in which to become 
reconciled to the national church ; the Muhammadans were to 
submit within three, and the heathen within five, years. A few 
days later the king promulgated an edict that showed how little 
worth was the three years' grace allowed to the Muhammadans ; 
for not only did he order them to build Christian churches 
wherever they were needed and to pay tithes to the priests 
resident in their respective districts, but also gave three months' 
notice to all Muhammadan officials to either receive baptism or 
resign their posts. Such compulsory conversion (consisting as it 
did merely of the rite of baptism and the payment of tithes) was 
naturally of the most ineffectual character, and while outwardly 
conforming, the Muslims in secret protested their loyalty to their 
old faith. Massaja saw some such go straight from the church in 
which they had been baptised to the mosque, in order to have 
this enforced baptism wiped off by some holy man of their own 
faith. 2 These mass conversions were rendered the more ineffectual 
by being confined to the men, for as the royal edict had made no 
mention of the women they were in no way molested, a circum- 
stance that will probably prove to be of considerable significance 
in the future history of Islam in Abyssinia, as Massaja bears 
striking testimony to the important part the Muhammadan women 
have played in the diffusion of their faith in this country. 3 By 
1880 King John is said to have compelled about 50,000 Muham- 
madans to be baptised, as well as 20,000 members of one of the 
pagan tribes and a half a million of Gallas. 4 Seeing that their 
conversion has gone no further than baptism and the payment of 
tithes, it is not surprising to learn that the only result of these 
violent measures has been to increase the hatred and hostility of 
both the Muslim and the heathen Abyssinians towards the 

1 Massaja, vol. xi. p. 124. 2 Id. vol. xi. pp. 77-8. 

Id. pp. 124, 125. * Oppel, p. 307 ; Keclus. Tome x. p. 247. 


Christian faith, 1 and as Menelik, the king of Shoa (who became 
the king of all Abyssinia after the death of King John in 1889), is 
said to be no fanatic as his predecessor was, but to tolerate and 
respect the convictions of others and to extend his protection and 
favour to honest and upright men irrespective of their creed and 
religion, 3 it is probable that Islam has received but a very slight 
check to its progress in Abyssinia. 

We must return now to the history of Africa in the seventh 
century, when the Arabs were pushing their conquests from East 
to West along the North coast. The comparatively easy conquest 
of Egypt, where so many of the inhabitants assisted the Arabs in 
bringing the Byzantine rule to an end, found no parallel in the 
bloody campaigns and the long-continued resistance that here 
barred their further progress, and half a century elapsed before 
the Arabs succeeded in making themselves complete masters of 
the north coast from Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean. It was not 
till 698 that the fall of Carthage brought the Roman rule in Africa 
to an end for ever, and the subjugation of the Berbers made the 
Arabs supreme in the country. 

The details of these campaigns it is no part of our purpose to 
consider, but rather to attempt to discover in what way Islam 
was spread among the Christian "population. Unfortunately the 
materials available for such a purpose are lamentably sparse and 
insufficient. What became of that great African church that had 
given such saints and theologians to Christendom ? The church 
of Tertullian, St. Cyprian and St. Augustine, which had emerged 
victorious out of so many persecutions, and had so stoutly 
championed the cause of Christian orthodoxy, seems to have 
faded away like a mist. 

In the absence of definite information, it has been usual to 
ascribe the disappearance of the Christian population to fanatical 
persecutions and forced conversions on the part of the Muslim 
conquerors. But there are many considerations that militate 
against such a rough and ready settlement of this question. First 
of all, there is the absence of definite evidence in support of such 
an assertion. Massacres, devastation and all the other accompani- 
ments of a bloody and long-protracted war, there were in horrible 

1 Massaja, vol. xi. pp. 79, 81. 

2 Id. vol. ix. pp. 6o-i ; vol. x. p. 12 ; vol. xi. p. 84. 


abundance, but of actual religious persecution we have little 
mention, and the survival of the native Christian church for more 
than eight centuries after the Arab conquest is a testimony to 
the toleration that alone could have rendered such a survival 

The causes that brought about the decay of Christianity in 
North Africa must be sought for elsewhere than in the bigotry of 
Muhammadan rulers. But before attempting to enumerate these, 
it will be well to realise how very small must have been the 
number of the Christian population at the end of the seventh 
century a circumstance that renders its continued existence 
under Muhammadan rule still more significant of the absence of 
forced conversion, and leaves such a hypothesis much less plausi- 
bility than would have been the case had the Arabs found a large 
and flourishing Christian church there when they commenced 
their conquest of northern Africa. 

The Roman provinces of Africa, to which the Christian popula- 
tion was confined, never extended far southwards ; the Sahara 
forms a barrier in this direction, so that the breadth of the coast 
seldom exceeds 80 or 100 miles. 1 Though there were as many as 
500 bishoprics just before the Vandal conquest, this number can 
serve as no criterion of the number of the faithful, owing to the 
practice observed in the African church of appointing bishops to 
the most inconsiderable towns and very frequently to the most 
obscure villages, 2 and it is doubtful whether Christianity ever 
spread far inland among the Berber tribes. 3 When the power of 
the Roman Empire declined in the fifth century, different tribes 
of this great race, known to the Romans under the names of 
Moors, Numidians, Libyans, etc., swarmed up from the south to 
ravage and destroy the wealthy cities of the coast. These in- 
vaders were certainly heathen. The Libyans, whose devastations 
are so pathetically bewailed by Synesius of Cyrene, pillaged and 
burnt the churches and carried off the sacred vessels for their 
own idolatrous rites, 4 and this province of Cyrenaica never re- 
covered from their devastations, and Christianity was probably 
almost extinct here at the time of the Muslim invasion. The 

1 Gibbon, vol. i. p. 161. 

2 Id. vol. ii. p. 212. 

8 C. O. Castiglioni : Recherches sur les Berbfcrcs Atlantiques, pp. 06-7. 
(Milan, 1826.) 
4 Synesii Catastasis. (Migne : Patr. Gr. Tom. lxvi. p. 1569.) 



Moorish chieftain in the district of Tripolis, who was at war with 
the Vandal king Thorismund (496-524), but respected the 
churches and clergy of the orthodox, who had been ill-treated by 
the Vandals, declared his heathenism when he said, " I do not 
know who the God of the Christians is, but if he is so powerful 
as he is represented, he will take vengeance on those who insult 
him, and succour those who do him honour." * There is some 
probability that the nomads of Mauritania also were very largely 

But whatever may have been the extent of the Christian 
church, it received a blow from the Vandal persecutions from 
which it never recovered. For nearly a century the Arian 
Vandals persecuted the orthodox with relentless fury ; sent their 
bishops into exile, forbade the public exercise of their religion 
and cruelly tortured those who refused to conform to the religion 
of their conquerors. 2 When in 534, Belisarius crushed the power 
of the Vandals and restored North Africa to the Roman Empire, 
only 217 bishops met in the Synod of Carthage 3 to resume the 
direction of the Christian church. After the fierce and long- 
continued persecution to which they had been subjected, the 
number of the faithful must have been very much reduced, and 
during the century that elapsed before the coming of the Muham- 
madans, the inroads of the barbarian Moors, who shut the Romans 
up in the cities and other centres of population, and kept the 
mountains, the desert and the open country for themselves, 4 the 
prevalent disorder and ill-government, and above all the deso- 
lating plagues that signalised the latter half of the sixth century, 
all combined to carry on the work of destruction. Five millions 
of Africans are said to have been consumed by the wars and 
government of the Emperor Justinian. The wealthier citizens 
abandoned a country whose commerce and agriculture, once so 
flourishing, had been irretrievably ruined. " Such was the deso- 
lation of Africa, that in many parts a stranger might wander 
whole days without meeting the face either of a friend or an enemy. 
The nation of the Vandals had disappeared ; they once amounted 
to an hundred and sixty thousand warriors, without including 
the children, the women, or the slaves. Their numbers were 

1 Neander (2), p. 320. 2 Gibbon, vol. iv. pp. 331-3. 

3 Id. vol. v. p. 115. * At Tijani, p. 201. Gibbon, vol. v. p. 122. 


infinitely surpassed by the number of Moorish families extirpated 
in a relentless war ; the same destruction was retaliated on the 
Romans and their allies, who perished by the climate, their 
mutual quarrels, and the rage of the barbarians." * 

In 646, the year before the victorious Arabs advanced from 
Egypt to tne subjugation of the western province, the African 
Church that had championed so often the purity of Christian 
doctrine, was stirred to its depths by the struggle against Mono- 
theletism ; but when the bishops of the four ecclesiastical provinces 
in the archbishopric of Carthage, viz. Mauritania, Numidia, 
Byzacena and Africa Proconsularis, held councils to condemn 
Monotheletism, and wrote synodal letters to the Emperor and 
the Pope, there were only sixty-eight bishops who assembled at 
Carthage to represent the last-mentioned province, and forty-two 
for Byzacena. The numbers from the other two dioceses are not 
given, but the Christian population had undoubtedly suffered much 
more in these than in the two other dioceses which were nearer 
to the seat of government. 2 It is exceedingly unlikely that any 
of the bishops were absent on an occasion that excited so much 
feeling, when zeal for Christian doctrine and political animosity 
to the Byzantine court both combined in stimulating this move- 
ment, and when Africa took the most prominent part in stirring 
up the opposition that led to the convening of the great Lateran 
Council of 648. This diminution in the number of the African 
bishops certainly points to a vast decrease in the Christian 
population, and in consideration of the numerous causes con- 
tributing to a decay of the population, too great stress even must 
not be laid upon the number of these, because an episcopal see 
may be continued to be filled long after the diocese has sunk into 

From the considerations enumerated above, it may certainly be 
inferred that the Christian population at the time of the Muham- 
madan invasion was by no means a large one. During the fifty 
years that elapsed before the Arabs assured their victory, the 
Christian population was still further reduced by the devastations 
of this long conflict. The city of Tripolis, after sustaining a siege 

1 Gibbon, vol. v. p. 214. 

2 Neander (1), vol. v. pp. 254-5. J. E. T. Wiltsch : Hand-book of the 
geography and statistics of the church. (London, 1859.) vol. i. pp. 433-4- 
T. Bournichon : L'Invasion Musulmane en Afrique, pp. 32-3 (Tours, 1890.) 


of six months, was sacked, and of the inhabitants part were put to 
the sword and the rest carried off captive into Egypt and Arabia. 1 
Another city, bordering on the Numidian desert, was defended 
by a Roman Count with a large garrison which bravely endured 
a blockade of a whole year ; when at last it was taken by storm, 
all the males were put to the sword and the women and children 
carried off captive. 2 The number of such captives is said to have 
amounted to several hundreds of thousands. 3 Many of the 
Christians took refuge in flight, 4 some into Italy and Spain, 5 and 
it would almost seem that others even wandered as far as Ger- 
many, judging from a letter addressed to the diocese of St. 
Boniface by Pope Gregory II. 6 In fact, many of the great Roman 
cities were quite depopulated, and remained uninhabited for a 
long time or were even left to fall to ruins entirely, 7 while in 
several cases the conquerors chose entirely new sites for their 
chief towns. 8 

As to the scattered remnants of the once flourishing Christian 
church that still remained in Africa at the end of the seventh 
century, it can hardly be supposed that persecution is responsible 
for their final disappearance, in the face of the fact that traces of 
a native Christian community were to be found even so late as 
the sixteenth century. Idris, the founder of the dynasty in --O 
Morocco that bore his name, is indeed said to have compelled by 
force Christians and Jews to embrace Islam in the year 789 a.d., 
when he had just begun to carve out a kingdom for himself with 
the sword, 9 but, as far as I have been able to discover, this incident 
is without parallel in the history of the native church of North 
Africa. 10 

1 Leo Africanus. (Ramusio, Tom. i. p. 70, D.) 

2 " Deusen, una citta antichissima edificata da Romani dove confina il regno di 
Buggia col diserto di Numidia." (Id. p. 75, F.) 

3 Pavy, vol. i. p. iv. 

4 *' Tous ceux qui ne se convertirent pas a l'islamisme, ou qui (conservant leur 
foi) ne voulurent pas s'obliger a payer la capitation, durent prendre la fuite devant 
les armees musulmanes." At Tijani, p. 201. 

3 Leo Africanus. (Ramusio, Tom. i. p. 7.) 

6 "Afros passim ad ecclesiasticos ordines (procedentes) prsetendentes nulla 
ratione suscipiat (Bonifacius), quia aliqui eorum Manichsei, aliqui rebaptizati 
ssepius sunt probati." Epist. iv. (Migne : Patr. Lat. Tom. lxxxix. p. 502.) 

7 Leo Africanus. (Ramusio, pp. 65, 66, 68, 69, 76.) 

8 Qayrwan or Cairoan, founded a.h. 50 ; Fez, founded A.H. 185 ; Almahdiyah, 
founded a.h. 303; Masilah, founded a.h. 315; Marocco, founded A.H. 424. 
(Abu-1 Fida. Tome ii. pp. 198, 186, 200, 191, 187.) 

9 Salih ibn 'Abdu-1 Halim, p. 16 
10 A doubtful case of forced conversion is attributed to 'Abdul Mu'min, who 



The very slowness of its decay is a testimony to the toleration 
it must have received. About 300 years after the Muhammadan 
conquest there were still nearly forty bishoprics left, 1 and when in 
1053 Pope Leo IX. laments that only five bishops could be found 
to represent the once flourishing African church, 2 the cause is 
most probably to be sought for in the terrible bloodshed and 
destruction wrought by the Arab hordes that had poured into the 
country a few years before and filled it with incessant conflict and 
anarchy. 3 In 1076, the African church could not provide the 
three bishops necessary for the consecration of an aspirant to the 
dignity of the episcopate, in accordance with the demands of 
canon law, and it was necessary for Pope Gregory VII. to conse- 
crate two bishops to act as coadjutors of the Archbishop of 
Carthage ; but the numbers of the faithful were still so large as 
to demand the creation of fresh bishops to lighten the burden of 
the work, which was too heavy for these three bishops to perform 
unaided. 4 In the course of the next two centuries, the Christian 
church declined still further, and in 1246 the bishop of Morocco 

conquered Tunis in 11 59. See De Mas Latrie. (2) pp. 77-8. "Deux auteurs 
arabes, Ibn-al-Athir, contemporain, mais vivanta Damas au milieu de l'exaltation 
religieuse que provoquaient les victoires de Saladin, l'autre El-Tidjani, visitant 
l'Afrique orientale au quatorzieme siecle, ont ecrit que le sultan, maitre de Tunis, 
forca les Chretiens et les juifs tablis dans cette ville a embrasser l'islamisme, et 
que les refractaires furent impitoyablement massacres. Nous doutons de la 
realite de toutes ces mesures. Si l'arrt fatal fut prononce dans l'emportement du 
triomphe et pour satisfaire quelques exigences momentanees, il dut etre elude" 
ou revoque, tant il etait contraire au principe de la liberte religieuse respect^ 
jusque-la par tous les princes maugrebins. Ce qu'il y a de certain, c'est que les 
Chretiens et les juifs ne tarderent pas a reparaftre a Tunis et qu'on voit les 
Chretiens avant la fin du regne d'Abd-el-Moumen etablis a Tunis et y jouissant 
comme par le passe de la liberte, de leurs etablissements, de leur commerce et de 
leur religion . . . . ' Accompagne ainsi par Dieu meme dans sa marche, dit un 
ancien auteur maugrebin, il traversa victorieusernent les terres du Zab et de 
lTfrikiah, conquerant le pays et les villes, accordant l'aman a ceux qui le deman- 
daient et tuant Us recalcitrants. * Ces derniers mots confirment notre sentiment 
sur sa politique a l'egard des Chretiens qui accepterent l'arret fatal de la 

1 De Mas Latrie (2), pp. 27-8. 

2 S. Leonis IX. Papae Epist. lxxxiii. (Migne : Patr. Lat. Tom. cxliii. p. 728.) 
This letter deals with a quarrel for precedence between the bishops of Gummi 
and Carthage, and it is quite possible that the disordered condition of Africa at 
the time may have kept the African bishops ignorant of the condition of other 
sees besides their own and those immediately adjacent, and that accordingly the 
information supplied to the Pope represented the numl>er of the bishops as being 
smaller than it really was. 

3 A. Miiller, vol. ii. pp. 628-9. 

4 S. Gregorii VII. Epistola xix. (Liber tertius.) (Migne : Patr. Lat. Tom. 
cxlviii. p. 449.) 


was the sole spiritual leader of the remnant of the native church. 1 
Up to the same period traces of the survival of Christianity were 
still to be found among the Kabils of Algeria 2 ; these tribes had 
received some slight instruction in the tenets of Islam at an early 
period, but the new faith had taken very little hold upon them, 
and as years went by, they lost even what little knowledge they 
had at first possessed, so much so that they even forgot the 
Muslim formula of prayer. Shut up in their mountain fastnesses 
and jealous of their independence, they successfully resisted the 
introduction of the Arab element into their midst, and thus the 
difficulties in the way of their conversion were very considerable. 
Some unsuccessful attempts to start a mission among them had 
been made by the inmates of a monastery belonging to the 
Qadariyah order, Sajiatu-1 Hamra, but the honour of winning an 
entrance among them for the Muslim faith was reserved for a 
number of Andalusian Moors who were driven out of Spain after 
the taking of Granada in 1492. They had taken refuge in this 
monastery and were recognised by the shaykh to be eminently 
fitted for the arduous task that had previously so completely 
baffled the efforts of his disciples. Before dismissing them on 
this pious errand, he thus addressed them : " It is a duty incum- 
bent upon us to bear the torch of Islam into these regions that 
have lost their inheritance in the blessings of religion ; for these 
unhappy Kabils are wholly unprovided with schools, and have no 
shaykb to teach their children the laws of morality and the virtues 
of Islam ; so they live like the brute beasts, without God or 
religion. To do away with this unhappy state of things, I have 
determined to appeal to your religious zeal and enlightenment. 
Let not these mountaineers wallow any longer in their pitiable 
ignorance of the grand truths of our religion ; go and breathe 
upon the dying fire of their faith and re-illumine its smouldering 
embers ; purge them of whatever errors may still cling to them 
from their former belief in Christianity ; make them understand 
that in the religion of our Lord Muhammad may God have 
compassion upon him dirt is not, as in the Christian religion, 
looked upon as acceptable in the eyes of God. 3 I will not disguise 

1 De Mas Latrie, p. 226. 

2 C. Trumelet : Les saints de l'lslam (Paris, i88i>, p. xxxiii. 

3 Compare the articles published by a Junta held at Madrid in 1566, for the 
reformation of the Moriscoes ; one of which runs as follows : " That neither 


from you the fact that your task is beset with difficulties, but 
your irresistible zeal and the ardour of your faith will enable you, 
by the grace of God, to overcome all obstacles. Go, my children, 
and bring back again to God and His Prophet these unhappy 
people who are wallowing in the mire of ignorance and unbelief. 
Go, my children, bearing the message of salvation, and may God 
be with you and uphold you." 

The missionaries started off in parties of five or six at a time in 
various directions ; they went in rags, staff in hand, and choosing 
out the wildest and least frequented parts of the mountains, 
established hermitages in caves and clefts of the rocks. Their 
austerities and prolonged devotions soon excited the curiosity of 
the Kabils, who after a short time began to enter into friendly 
relations with them. Little by little the missionaries gained the 
influence they desired through their knowledge of medicine, of 
the mechanical arts, and other advantages of civilisation, and 
each hermitage became a centre of Muslim teaching. Students, 
attracted by the learning of the new-comers, gathered round 
them and in time became missionaries of Islam to their fellow- 
countrymen, until their faith spread throughout all the country 
of the Kabils and the villages of the Algerian Sahara. 1 

The above incident is no doubt illustrative of the manner in 
which Islam was introduced among such other sections of the 
independent tribes of the interior as had received any Christian 
teaching, but whose knowledge of this faith had dwindled down 
to the observance of a few superstitious rites 2 ; for, cut off as they 
were from the rest of the Christian world and unprovided with 
spiritual teachers, they could have had little in the way of 
positive religious belief to oppose to the teachings of the Muslim 

There is little more to add to these sparse records of the decay 

themselves, their women, nor any other persons should be permitted to wash or 
bathe themselves either at home or elsewhere ; and that all their bathing houses 
should be pulled down and demolished." (J. Morgan, vol. ii. p. 256.) 

1 C. Trumelet : Les Saints de l'lslam, pp. xxviii-xxxvi. 

2 Leo Africanus says that at the end of the fifteenth century all the mountaineers 
of Algeria and of Buggia, though Muhammadans, painted black crosses on their 
cheeks and palm of the hand. (Ramusio i. p. 61); similarly the Banit Mzab to 
the present day still keep up some religious observances corresponding to excom- 
munication and confession (Oppel. p. 299), and some nomad tribes of the 
Sahara observe the practice of a kind of baptism and use the cross as a decoration 
for their stuffs and weapons. (De Mas Latrie (2), p. 8.) 


of the North African church. A Muhammadan traveller, 1 who 
visited Al Jarld, the southern district of Tunis, in the early part 
of the fourteenth century, tells us that the Christian churches, 
although in ruins, were still standing in his day, not having been 
destroyed by the Arab conquerors, who had contented themselves 
with building a mosque in front of each of these churches. At 
the end of the following century there was still to be found in 
the city of Tunis a small community of native Christians, living 
together in one of the suburbs, quite distinct from that in which 
the foreign Christian merchants resided ; far from being oppressed 
or persecuted, they were employed as the bodyguard of the Sultan. 2 
These were doubtless the same persons as were congratulated on 
their perseverance in the Christian faith by Charles V. after the 
capture of Tunis in 1535. 3 

This is the last we hear of the native Christian church in North 
Africa. The very fact of its so long survival would militate against 
any supposition of forced conversion, even if we had not abundant 
evidence of the tolerant spirit of the Arab rulers of the various 
North African kingdoms, who employed Christian soldiers, 4 
granted by frequent treaties the free exercise of their religion to 
Christian merchants and settlers, 5 and to whom Popes 6 recom- 
mended the care of the native Christian population, while exhort- 
ing the latter to serve their Muhammadan rulers faithfully. 7 

1 At TijanI, p. 203. 

2 Leo Africanus. (Ramusio, Tom. i. p. 67.) 

3 Pavy, vol. i. p. vii. 

4 De Mas Latrie (2), pp. 61-2, 266-7 J L. del Marmol-Caravajal ; De 
1'Afrique. Tome ii. p. 54. (Paris, 1667.) 

5 De Mas Latrie (2), p. 192. 

6 e.g. Innocent III., Gregory VII., Gregory IX. and Innocent IV, 

7 De Mas Latrie (2), p. 273. 



In 71 1 the victorious Arabs introduced Islam into Spain : in 1502 
an edict of Ferdinand and Isabella forbade the exercise of the 
Muhammadan religion throughout the kingdom. During the 
centuries that elapsed between these two dates, Muslim Spain 
had written one of the brightest pages in the history of mediaeval 
Europe. She had inaugurated the age of chivalry and her influ- 
ence had passed through Provence into the other countries of 
Europe, bringing into birth a new poetry and a new culture, and 
it was from her that Christian scholars received what of Greek 
philosophy and science they had to stimulate their mental 
activity up to the time of the Renaissance. But these triumphs 
of the civilised life art and poetry, science and philosophy we 
must pass over here and fix our attention on the religious condi- 
tion of Spain under the Muslim rule. 

When the Muhammadans first brought their religion into 
Spain they found Catholic Christianity firmly established after its 
conquest over Arianism. The sixth Council of Toledo had 
enacted that all kings were to swear that they would not suffer 
the exercise of any other religion but the Catholic, and would 
vigorously enforce the law against all dissentients, while a subse- 
quent law forbade anyone under pain of confiscation of his pro- 
perty and perpetual imprisonment, to call in question the Holy 
Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Evangelical Institutions, the 
definitions of the Fathers, the decrees of the Church, and the 
Holy Sacraments. The clergy had gained for their order a pre- 
ponderating influence in the affairs of the State ; x the bishops 
and chief ecclesiastics sat in the national councils, which met to 

1 Baudissin, p. 22. 


settle the most important business of the realm, ratified the 
election of the king and claimed the right to depose him if he 
refused to abide by their decrees. The Christian clergy took 
advantage of their power to persecute the Jews who formed a 
very large community in Spain ; edicts of a brutally severe 
character were passed against such as refused to be baptised l ; 
and they consequently hailed the invading Arabs as their 
deliverers from such cruel oppression, they garrisoned the cap- 
tured cities on behalf of the conqueror and opened the gates of 
towns that were being besieged. 2 

The Muhammadans received as warm a welcome from the 
slaves, whose condition under the Gothic rule was a very miserable 
one, and whose knowledge of Christianity was too superficial to 
have any weight when compared with the liberty and numerous 
advantages they gained, by throwing in their lot with the 

These down-trodden slaves were the first converts to Islam in 
Spain. The remnants of the heathen population of which we 
find mention as late as 693 a.d., s probably followed their example. 
Many of the Christian nobles, also, whether from genuine con- 
viction or from other motives, embraced the new creed. 4 Many 
converts were won, too, from the lower and middle classes, who 
may well have embraced Islam, not merely outwardly, but from 
genuine conviction, turning to it from a religion whose ministers 
had left them ill-instructed and uncared for, and busied with 
worldly ambitions had plundered and oppressed their flocks. 5 
Having once become Muslims, these Spanish converts showed 
themselves zealous adherents of their adopted faith, and they and 
their children joined themselves to the Puritan party of the rigid 
Muhammadan theologians as against the careless and luxurious 
life of the Arab aristocracy. 6 At the time of the Muhammadan 
conquest the old Gothic virtues had declined and given place to 
effeminacy and corruption, so that the Muhammadan rule appeared 
to Christian theologians to be a punishment sent from God on 
those who had gone astray into the paths of vice. 7 

1 Helfferich, p. 68. 2 Al Makkarl, vol. i. pp. 280-2. 

3 Baudissin, p. 7. 4 Dozy (2), tome ii. p. 45-6. 

5 A. Miiller, vol. ii. p. 463. 6 Dozy (2), tome ii. pp. 44-6. 

7 So St. Boniface (a. d. 745, Epist. lxii.) "Sicut aliis gentibus Hispaniae et 
Provincial et Burgundionum populis contigit, quae sic a Deo recedentes fornicatse 
sunt, donee index omnipotens talium criminum ultrices pcenas per ignorantiam 


As time went on, matters do not seem to have mended them- 
selves ; and when Christian bishops took part in the revels of the 
Muhammadan court, when episcopal sees were put up to auction 
and even atheists appointed as shepherds of the faithful, and 
these in their turn bestowed the office of the priesthood on low 
and unworthy persons, 1 we may well suppose that it was not only 
in the province of Elvira 3 that Christians turned from a religion,, 
the corrupt lives of whose ministers had brought it into discredit, 3 
and sought a more congenial atmosphere for the moral and 
spiritual life in the pale of Islam. 

Had ecclesiastical writers cared to chronicle them, Spain would 
doubtless be found to offer instances of many a man leaving the 
Christian church like Bodo, a deacon at the French court in the 
reign of Louis the Pious, who in 838 a.d. became a Jew, in order 
that (as he said), forsaking his sinful life, he might " abide stead- 
fast in the law of the Lord." 4 

It is very possible, too, that the lingering remains of the old 
Gothic Arianism of which, indeed, there had been some slight 
revival in the Spanish church just before the Arab conquest 5 
may have predisposed men's minds to accept the new faith whose 
Christology was in such close agreement with Arian doctrine. 6 

Of forced conversion or anything like persecution in the early 
days of the Arab conquest, we hear nothing. Indeed, it was- 
probably in a great measure their tolerant attitude towards the 

legis Dei et per Saracenos venire et saevire permisit." (Migne, Patr. Lat. torn, 
lxxxix. p. 761.) Eulogius: lib. i. 30. " In cuius (i.e. gentis Saracenicce) ditione- 
nostro compellente facinore sceptrum Hispanite translatum est." (Migne, Patr. 
Lat. torn. cxv. p. 761.) Similarly Alvar (2), 18. " Et probare nostro vitio 
inlatum intentabo flagellum. Nostra hcec, fratres, nostra desidia peperit mala, 
nostra impuritas, nostra levitas, nostra morum obscoenitas .... unde tradidit 
nos Dominus qui iustitiam diligit, et cuius vultus sequitatem decernit, ipsi bestiae 
conrodendos." (pp. 531-2.) 

1 Samson, pp. 377-8, 381. 2 Dozy (2), tome ii. p. 210. 

* Bishop Egila who was sent to Southern Spain by Pope Hadrian I. towards 
the end of the eighth century, on a mission to counteract the growing influence of 
Muslim thought, denounces the Spanish priests who lived in concubinage with 
married women. (Helfferich, p. 83.) 

4 Alvari Cordubensis Epist xix. " Ob meritum ceternce retributionis devovi me 
sedulum in lege Domini consistere." (Migne, Patr. Lat. torn. cxxi. p. 512.) 

5 Helfferich, p. 79-80. 

6 " Bedenkt man nun, wie wichtig gerade die alttestamentliche Idee des 
Prophetenthums in der Christologie des germanischen Arianismus nachklang und 
auch nach der Annahme des katholischen Dogma's in dem religiosen Bewusstsein 
der "Westgothen haften blieb, so wird man es sehr erklarlich findenj dass unmittel- 
bar nach dem Einfall der Araber die verwandten Vorstellungen des Mohamme- 
danismus unter den geknechteten Christen auftauchten." (Helfferich, p. 82.) 


Christian religion that facilitated their rapid acquisition of the 
country. The only complaint that the Christians could bring 
against their new rulers for treating them differently to their 
non-Christian subjects, was that they had to pay the usual capita- 
tion-tax of forty-eight dirhams for the rich, twenty-four for the 
middle classes, and twelve for those who made their living by 
manual labour : this, as being in lieu of military service, was 
levied only on the able-bodied males, for women, children, monks, 
the halt, and the blind, and the sick, mendicants and slaves were 
exempted therefrom 1 ; it must moreover have appeared the less 
oppressive as being collected by the Christian officials them- 
selves. 2 

Except in the case of offences against the Muslim religious law, 
the Christians were tried by their own judges and in accordance 
with their own laws. 3 They were left undisturbed in the exercise 
of their religion 4 ; the sacrifice of the mass was offered, with 
the swinging of censers, the ringing of the bell, and all the other 
solemnities of the Catholic ritual ; the psalms were chanted in 
the choir, sermons preached to the people, and the festivals of 
the church observed in the usual manner. They do not appear 
to have been condemned, like their co-religionists in Syria and 
Egypt, to wear a distinctive dress as sign of their humiliation, 
and in the ninth century at least, the Christian laity wore the 
same kind of costume as the Arabs. 5 They were at one time 
even allowed to build new churches, 6 which was quite contrary to 

1 Dozy (2), tome ii. p. 41. 2 Dozy (2), tome ii. p. 39. 

3 Baudissin, pp. 11-13, 196. 

* Eulogius : Mem. Sanct. lib. i. 30, "inter ipsos sine molestia fidei 
degimus " (p. 761). 

Id. ib. lib. i. $ 1 8, " Quos nulla prsesidialis violentia fidem 

suam negare compulit, nee a cultu sanctoe piaeque religionis amovit " (p. 751). 
John of Gorz (who visited Spain about the middle of the tenth century) 124. 
11 (Christiani), qui in regno eius libere divinis suisque rebus utebantur." 

A Spanish bishop thus described the condition of the Christians to John of 
Gorz. " Peccatis ad hoec devoluti sumus, ut paganorum subiaceamus ditioni. 
Resistere potestati verbo prohibemur apostoli. Tantum hoc unum relictum est 
solatii, quod in tantse calamitatis malo legibus nos propriis uti non prohibent ; 
qui quos diligentes Christianitatis viderint observatores, colunt et amplectuntur, 
simul ipsorum convictu delectantur. Pro tempore igitur hoc videmur tenere 
consilii, ut quia religionis nulla infertur iactura, cetera eis obsequamur, iussisque 
eorum in quantum fidem non impediunt obtemperemus " 122 (p. 302). 

5 Baudissin, pp. 16-17. 

6 Eulogius, ob. 859 (Mem. Sanct. lib. iii. c. 3) speaks of churches recently 
erected (ecclesias nuper structas). The chronicle falsely ascribed to Luitprand 
records the erection of a church at Cordova in 895 (p. 1 1 13). 

I 2 


the stipulations usually made on the conquest of a Christian 

We read also of the founding l of several fresh monasteries in 
addition to the numerous convents both for monks and nuns that 
flourished undisturbed by the Muhammadan rulers. The monks 
could appear publicly in the woollen robes of their order and the 
priest had no need to conceal the mark of his sacred office, 2 
nor at the same time did their religious profession prevent the 
Christians from being entrusted with high offices at court. 8 

Certainly those Christians, who could reconcile themselves to 
the loss of political power, had little to complain of, and it is very 
noticeable that during the whole of the eighth century we hear of 
only one attempt at revolt on their part, namely at Beja, and in 
this they appear to have followed the lead of an Arab chief.* 
Those who migrated into French territory in order that they 
might live under a Christian rule, certainly fared no better than 
the co-religionists they had left behind. In 812 Charlemagne 
interfered to protect the exiles who had followed him on his 
retreat from Spain from the exactions of the imperial officers. 
Three years later Louis the Pious had to issue another edict on 
their behalf, in spite of which they had soon again to complain 
against the nobles who robbed them of the lands that had been 
assigned to them. But the evil was only checked for a little time 
to break out afresh, and all the edicts passed on their behalf did 
not avail to make the lot of these unfortunate exiles more toler- 
able, and in the Cagots (i.e. canes Gothi), a despised and ill-treated 
class of later times, we probably meet again the Spanish colony 
that fled away from Muslim rule to throw themselves upon the 
mercy of their Christian co-religionists. 6 

The toleration of the Muhammadan government towards its 
Christian subjects in Spain and the freedom of intercourse 
between the adherents of the two religions brought about a 
certain amount of assimilation in the two communities. Inter- 
marriages became frequent 6 ; Isidore of Beja, who fiercely inveighs 

1 Eulogius: Mem. Sanct. lib. iii. c. It. (p. 812.) 

2 Baudissin, p. 16. 

3 id. p. It. and John of Gore, 128 (p. 306.) 

4 Dozy (2), tome ii. p. 42. 

5 Baudissin, pp. 96-7. 

6 See the letter of Pope Hadrian I. to the Spanish bishops : "Porro diversa 
capitula quae ex illis audivimus partibus, id est, quod multi dicentes se catholicos 
esse, communem vitam gerentes cum Iudaeis et non baptizatis paganis, tarn in 


against the Muslim conquerors, records the marriage of 'Abdu-I 
'Aziz, the son of Musa, with the widow of King Roderic, without 
a word of blame. 1 Many of the Christians adopted Arab names, 
and in outward observances imitated to some extent their 
Muhammadan neighbours, e.g. many were circumcised, 2 and in 
matters of food and drink followed the practice of the a unbaptized 
pagans." 3 

The very term Muzarabes (i.e. must'aribin or Arabicised) applied 
to the Spanish Christians living under Arab rule, is significant of 
the tendencies that were at work. The study of Arabic very 
rapidly began to displace that of Latin throughout the country* 
so that the language of Christian theology came gradually to be 
neglected and forgotten. Even some of the higher clergy ren- 
dered themselves ridiculous by their ignorance of correct Latinity. 5, 
It could hardly be expected that the laity would exhibit more 
zeal in such a matter than the clergy, and in 854 a Spanish writer 
brings the following complaint against his Christian fellow-coun- 
trymen : "While we are investigating their (i.e. the Muslim) 
sacred ordinances and meeting together to study the sects of their 
philosophers or rather philobraggers not for the purpose of 
refuting their errors, but for the exquisite charm and for the 
eloquence and beauty of their language neglecting the reading of 
the Scriptures, we are but setting up as an idol the number of the 
beast. (Apoc. xiii. 18.) Where nowadays can we find any learned 
layman that, absorbed in the study of the Holy Scriptures, cares 
to look at the works of any of the Latin Fathers ? Who is there 
with any zeal for the writings of the Evangelists, or the Prophets, 
or Apostles ? Our Christian young men, with their elegant airs 
and fluent speech, are showy in their dress and carriage, and are 

escis quamque in potu et in diversis erroribus nihil pollui se inquiunt : et illud 
quod inhibitum est, ut nulli liceat iugum ducere cum infidelibus, ipsi enim 
filias suas cum alio benedicent, et sic populo gentili tradentur." (Migne : Patr. 
Lat. tome xcviii. p. 385.) 

1 Isidori Pacensis Chronicon, 42 (p. 1266). 

2 Alvar : Indie. Lum. 35 (p. 53). John of Gorz. 123 (p. 303). 

3 Letter of Hadrian I. p. 385. John of Gorz. 123 (p. 303). 

4 Some Arabic verses of a Christian poet of the eleventh century are still extant, 
which exhibit considerable skill in handling the language and metre. (Von 
Schack. II. 95.) 

5 Abbot Samson gives us specimens of the bad Latin written by some of the 
ecclesiastics of his time, e.g. " Cum contempti essemus simplicitas Christiana," but 
his correction is hardly much better, " contenti essemus simplicitati christianse '" 
(pp. 404, 406). 


famed for the learning of the gentiles ; intoxicated with Arab 
eloquence they greedily handle, eagerly devour and zealously 
discuss the books of the Chaldeans (i.e. Muhammadans), and 
make them known by praising them with every flourish of 
rhetoric, knowing nothing of the beauty of the Church's litera- 
ture, and looking down with contempt on the streams of the 
Church that flow forth from Paradise ; alas ! the Christians are 
so ignorant of their own law, the Latins pay so little attention to 
their own language, that in the whole Christian flock there is 
hardly one man in a thousand who can write a letter to inquire 
after a friend's health intelligibly, while you may find a countless 
rabble of all kinds of them who can learnedly roll out the grandi- 
loquent periods of the Chaldean tongue. They can even make 
poems, every line ending with the same letter, which display 
higher flights of beauty and more skill in handling metre than 
the gentiles themselves possess." * 

In fact the knowledge of Latin so much declined in one part of 
Spain that it was found necessary to translate the ancient Canons 
of the Spanish Church and the Bible into Arabic for the use of 
the Christians. 2 

While the brilliant literature of the Arabs exercised such a 
fascination and was so zealously studied, those who desired an 
education in Christian literature had little more than the materials 
that had been employed in the training of the barbaric Goths, 
and could with difficulty find teachers to induct them even into 
this low level of culture. As time went on this want of Christian 
education increased more and more. In 1125 the Muzarabes 
wrote to King Alfonso of Aragon : M We and our fathers have 
up to this time been brought up among the gentiles, and having 
been baptised, freely observe the Christian ordinances ; but we 
have never had it in our power to be fully instructed in our 
divine religion ; for, subject as we are to the infidels who have 
long oppressed us, we have never ventured to ask for teachers 
from Rome or France ; and they have never come to us of their 
own accord on account of the barbarity of the heathen whom we 
obey." 3 

From such close intercourse with the Muslims and so diligent 

1 Alvar : Indie. Lum. 35 (pp. 554-6). 

2 Von Schack, vol. ii. p. 96. 

3 Orderic Vitalis, p. 928. 


a study of their literature when we find even so bigoted an 
opponent of Islam as Alvar x acknowledging that the Qur'an was 
composed in such eloquent and beautiful language that even 
Christians could not help reading and admiring it we should 
naturally expect to find signs of a religious influence : and such 
indeed is the case. Elipandus, Bishop of Toledo (ob. 810), an 
exponent of the heresy of Adoptionism according to which the 
Man Christ Jesus was Son of God by adoption and not by nature 
is expressly said to have arrived at these heretical views through 
his frequent and close intercourse with the Muhammadans. 3 This 
new doctrine appears to have spread quickly over a great part of 
Spain, while it was successfully propagated in Septimania, which 
was under French protection, by Felix, Bishop of Urgel in 
Catalonia. 3 Felix was brought before a council, presided over 
by Charlemagne, and made to abjure his error, but on his return 
to Spain he relapsed into his old heresy, doubtless (as was 
suggested by Pope Leo III. at the time; owing to his intercourse 
with the pagans (meaning thereby the Muhammadans) who held 
similar views. 4 When prominent churchmen were so profoundly 
influenced by their contact with Muhammadans, we may judge 
that the influence of Islam upon the Christians of Spain was very 
considerable, indeed in a.d. 936 a council was held at Toledo to 
consider the best means of preventing this intercourse from 
contaminating the purity of the Christian faith. 5 

It may readily be understood how these influences of Islamic 
thought and practice added to definite efforts at conversion 6 

1 Alvar : Ind. Lum. 29. ** Compositionem verborum, et preces omnium eius 
membrorum quotidie pro eo eleganti facundia, et venusto confectas eloquio, nos 
ho die per eorum volumina et oculis legimus et plerumque miramur." (Migne : 
Patr. Lat. tome cxxi. p. 546.) 

2 Enhueber, 26, p. 353. 

3 Helfferich, p. 88. 

4 M Postmodum transgressus legem Dei, fugiens ad paganos consentaneos 
periuratus effectus est." Frobenii dissertatio de hseresi Elipandi et Felicis, xxiv. 
(Migne : Patr. Lat. tome ci. p. 313.) 

5 Pseudo-Luitprandi Chronicon, 341 (p. 1115). "Basilius Toletanum con- 
cilium contrahit ; quo providetur, ne Christiani detrimentum acciperent convictu 

6 There is little record of such, but they seem referred to in the following 
sentences of Eulogius (Liber Apologeticus Martyrum, 20), on Muhammad : 
<4 Cuius quidem erroris insaniam, pnedicationis deliramenta, et impke novitatis 
prsecepta quisquis catholicorum cognoscere cupit, evidentius ab eiusdem sectse 
cultoribus perscrutando advertet. Quoniam sacrum se quidpiam tenere et credere 
autumantes, non modo privatis, sed apertis vocibus vatis sui dogmata prsedicant." 
(Migne : Patr. Lat. tome cxv. p. 862.) 


would lead to much more than a mere approximation and would 
very speedily swell the number of the converts to Islam so that 
their descendants, the so-called Muwallads a term denoting 
those not of Arab blood soon formed a large and important 
party in the state, indeed the majority of the population of the 
country, 1 and as early as the beginning of the ninth century we 
read of attempts made by them to shake off the Arab rule, and on 
several later occasions they come forward actively as a national 
party of Spanish Muslims. 

We have little or no details of the history of the conversion of 
these New-Muslims. Some few apostatised to escape the pay- 
ment of some penalty inflicted by the law-courts. 2 But the 
majority of the converts were no doubt won over by the imposing 
influence of the faith of Islam itself, presented to them as it was 
with all the glamour of a brilliant civilisation, having a poetry, a 
philosophy and an art well calculated to attract the reason and 
dazzle the imagination : while in the lofty chivalry of the Arabs 
there was free scope for the exhibition of manly prowess and the 
knightly virtues a career closed to the conquered Spaniards 
that remained true to the Christian faith. Again, the learning 
and literature of the Christians must have appeared very poor 
and meagre when compared with that of the Muslims, the study 
of which may well by itself have served as an incentive to the 
adoption of their religion. Besides, to the devout mind Islam in 
Spain could offer the attractions of a pious and zealous Puritan 
party with the orthodox Muslim theologians at its head, which 
at times had a preponderating influence in the state and struggled 
earnestly towards a reformation of faith and morals. 

Taking into consideration the ardent religious feeling that 
animated the mass of the Spanish Muslims and the provocation 
that the Christians gave to the Muhammadan government through 
their treacherous intrigues with their co-religionists over the 
border, the history of Spain under Muhammadan rule is singularly 
free from persecution. With the exception of three or four cases 
of genuine martyrdom, the only approach to anything like per- 
secution during the whole period of the Arab rule is to be found 
in the severe measures adopted by the Muhammadan government 
to repress the madness for voluntary martyrdom that broke out 
in Cordova in the ninth century. At this time a fanatical party 
1 Dozy (2), tome ii. p. 53. 2 Samson, p. 379. 


came into existence among the Christians in this part of Spain 
(for apparently the Christian Church in the rest of the country 
had no sympathy with the movement), which set itself openly 
and unprovokedly to insult the religion of the Muslims and 
blaspheme their Prophet, with the deliberate intention of in- 
curring the penalty of death by such misguided assertion of their 
Christian bigotry. 

This strange passion for self-immolation displayed itself mainly 
among priests, monks and nuns between the years 850 and 860. 
It would seem that brooding, in the silence of their cloisters, over 
the decline of Christian influence and the decay of religious zeal, 
they went forth to win the martyr's crown of which the tolera- 
tion of their infidel rulers was robbing them by means of fierce 
attacks on Islam and its founder. Thus, for example, a certain 
monk, by name Isaac, came before the QadI and pretended that 
he wished to be instructed in the faith of Islam ; when the QadI 
had expounded to him the doctrines of the Prophet, he burst out 
with the words : " He hath lied unto you (may the curse of God 
consume him !), who, full of wickedness, hath led so many men 
into perdition, and doomed them with himself to the pit of hell. 
Filled with Satan and practising Satanic jugglery, he hath given 
you a cup of deadly wine to work disease in you, and will expiate 
his guilt with everlasting damnation. Why do ye not, being 
endowed with understanding, deliver yourselves from such dangers ? 
Why do ye not, renouncing the ulcer of his pestilential doctrines, 
seek the eternal salvation of the Gospel of the faith of Christ ? " * 
On another occasion two Christians forced their way into a 
mosque and there reviled the Muhammadan religion, which, they 
declared, would very speedily bring upon its followers the destruc- 
tion of hell-fire. 3 Though the number of such fanatics was not 
considerable, 3 the Muhammadan government grew alarmed, 
fearing that such contempt for their authority and disregard of 
their laws against blasphemy, argued a widespread disaffection and 
a possible general insurrection, for in fact, in 853 Muhammad I. 
had to send an army against the Christians at Toledo, who, 

1 Eulogius: Mem. Sanct. Pref. 2. (Migne, torn. cxv. p. 737.) 

2 Id. c. xiii. (p. 794). 

3 The number of the martyrs is said not to have exceeded forty. (W. H. 
Prescott : History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, vol. i. p. 342, n.) 
(London 1846.) 


incited by Eulogius, the chief apologist of the martyrs, had risen 
in revolt on the news of the sufferings of their co-religionists. 1 
He is said to have ordered a general massacre of the Christians, 
but when it was pointed out that no men of any intelligence or 
rank among the Christians had taken part in such doings 2 (for 
Alvar himself complains that the majority of the Christian priests 
condemned the martyrs 3 ), the king contented himself with putting 
into force the existing laws against blasphemy with the utmost 
rigour. The moderate party in the Church seconded the efforts 
of the government ; the bishops anathematised the fanatics, and 
an ecclesiastical council that was held in 852 to discuss the matter 
agreed upon methods of repression 4 that eventually quashed the 
movement. One or two isolated cases of martyrdom are recorded 
later the last in 983, after which there was none as long as the 
Arab rule lasted in Spain. 5 

But under the Berber dynasty of the Almoravids at the 
beginning of the twelfth century, there was an outburst of 
fanaticism on the part of the theological zealots of Islam in 
which the Christians had to suffer along with the Jews and the 
liberal section of the Muhammadan population the philosophers, 
the poets and the men of letters. But such incidents are excep- 
tions to the generally tolerant character of the Muhammadan 
rulers of Spain towards their Christian subjects. 

One of the Spanish Muhammadans who was driven out of his 

1 Dozy (2), tome ii. p. 161-2. 

2 Eulogius : Mem. Sanct. I. iii. c. vii. (p. 805). " Pro eo quod nullus sapiens, 
nemo urbanus, nullusque procerum Christianorum huiuscemodi rem perpetiasset, 
idcirco non debere universos perimere asserebant, quos non prreit personalis dux 
ad praelium." 

3 Alvar: Ind. Lum. 14. " Nonne ipsi qui videbantur columns, qui 
putabantur Ecclesiae petrce, qui credebantur electi, nullo cogente, nemine 
provocante, iudicem adierunt, et in pnesentia Cynicorum, imo Epicureorum, Dei 
martyres infamaverunt ? Nonne pastores Christi, doctores Ecclesiae, episcopi, 
abbates, presbyteri, proceres et magnati, hsereticos eos esse publice clamaverunt ? 
et publica professione sine desquisitione, absque interrogatione, quae nee 
imminente mortis sententia erant dicenda, spontanea voluntate, et libero mentis 
arbitrio, protulerunt ? " (Migne : torn. exxi. p. 529.) 

4 Alvar: Indie Lum. 15. "Quid obtendendum est de illis quos ecclesias- 
tice interdiximus, et a quibus ne aliquando ad martyrii surgerent palmam 
iuramentum extorsimus? quibus errores gentilium infringere vetuimus, et male- 
dictum ne maledictionibus impeterent ? Evangelio et cruce educta vi iurare 
improbiter fecimus, imo feraliter et belluino terrore coegimus, minantes inaudita 
supplicia, et monstruosa promittentes truncationum membrorum varia et horrenda 
dictu audituve flagella?'* (Migne : torn. exxi. p. 530.) 

6 Baudissin, p. 199. 


native country in the last expulsion of the Moriscoes in 1610 
while protesting against the persecutions of the Inquisition, makes 
the following vindication of the toleration of his co-religionists : 
"Did our victorious ancestors ever once attempt to extirpate 
Christianity out of Spain, when it was in their power ? Did they 
not suffer your forefathers to enjoy the free use of their rites at 
the same time that they wore their chains ? Is not the absolute 
injunction of our Prophet, that whatever nation is conquered by 
Musalman steel, should, upon the payment of a moderate annual 
tribute, be permitted to persevere in their own pristine persuasion, 
how absurd soever, or to embrace what other belief they them- 
selves best approved of ? If there may have been some examples 
of forced conversions, they are so rare as scarce to deserve men- 
tioning, and only attempted by men who had not the fear of God, 
and the Prophet, before their eyes, and who, in so doing, have 
acted directly and diametrically contrary to the holy precepts 
and ordinances of Islam which cannot, without sacrilege, be 
violated by any who would be held worthy of the honourable 

epithet of Musulman You can never produce, among us, any 

bloodthirsty, formal tribunal, on account of different persuasions in 
points of faith, that anywise approaches your execrable Inquisition. 
Our arms, it is true, are ever open to receive all who are disposed 
to embrace our religion ; but we are not allowed by our sacred 
Qur'an to tyrannize over consciences. Our proselytes have all 
imaginable encouragement, and have no sooner professed God's 
Unity and His Apostle's mission but they become one of us, 
without reserve ; taking to wife our daughters, and being em- 
ployed in posts of trust, honour and profit ; we contenting 
ourselves with only obliging them to wear our habit, and to seem 
true believers in outward appearance, without ever offering to 
examine their consciences, provided they do not openly revile or 
profane our religion : if they do that, we indeed punish them as 
they deserve ; since their conversion was voluntarily, and was not 
by compulsion." x 

This very spirit of toleration was made one of the main articles 
in an account of the " Apostacies and Treasons of the Moriscoes," 
drawn up by the Archbishop of Valencia in 1602 when recom- 
mending their expulsion to Philip III., as follows : " That they 

1 Morgan, vol. ii. pp. 297-8, 345. 


commended nothing so much as that liberty of conscience, in all 
matters of religion, which the Turks, and all other Muhammadans, 
suffer their subjects to enjoy." 1 

What deep roots Islam had struck in the hearts of the Spanish 
people may be judged from the fact that when the last remnant 
of the Moriscoes was expelled from Spain in 1610, these unfor- 
tunate people still clung to the faith of their fathers, although for 
more than a century they had been forced to outwardly conform 
to the Christian religion, and in spite of the emigrations that had 
taken place since the fall of Granada, nearly one million of them 
are said to have been expelled at that time : " those who go 
lowest make the numbers of the then expelled Moriscoes to 
amount to six hundred thousand : a terrible blow for a country 
which, even then, was not overstocked with natives." 3 Whole 
towns and villages were deserted and the houses fell into 
ruins, there being no one to rebuild them. 3 These Moriscoes 
were probably all descendants of the original inhabitants of the 
country, with little or no admixture of Arab blood ; the reasons 
that may be adduced in support of this statement are too lengthy 
to be given here ; one point only in the evidence may be men- 
tioned, derived from a letter written in 131 1, in which it is stated 
that of the 200,000 Muhammadans then living in the city of 
Granada, not more than 500 were of Arab descent, all the rest being 
descendants of converted Spaniards. 4 Finally, it is of interest to 
note that even up to the last days of its power in Spain, Islam won 
converts to the faith, for the historian, when writing of events that 
occurred in the year 1499, seven years after the fall of Granada, 
draws attention to the fact that among the Moors were a few 
Christians who had lately embraced the faith of the Prophet. 5 

1 Morgan, vol. ii. p. 310. 2 H. p. 227. 

3 Id. p. 337. 4 Id. p. 289. 

6 Stirling-Maxwell. (Vol. i. p. 1 15.) 


We first hear of the Ottoman Turks at the commencement of the 
thirteenth century, when fleeing before the Mongols, to the 
number of about 50,000, they came to the help of the Sultan of 
Iconium, and in return for their services both against the 
Mongols and the Greeks, had assigned to them a district in the 
north-west of Asia Minor. This was the nucleus of the future 
Ottoman empire, which, increasing at first by the absorption of 
the petty states into which the Saljuq Turks had split up, after- 
wards crossed over into Europe, annexing kingdom after kingdom, 
until its victorious growth received a check before the gates of 
Vienna in 1683. 1 

From the earliest days of the extension of their kingdom in 
Asia Minor, the Ottomans exercised authority over Christian 
subjects, but it was not until the ancient capital of the Eastern 
Empire fell into their hands in 1453 that the relations between 
the Muslim Government and the Christian church were definitely 
established on a fixed basis. One of the first steps taken by 
Muhammad II., after the capture of Constantinople and the 

1 This is no place to give a history of these territorial acquisitions, which may 
be briefly summed up thus. In 1353 the Ottoman Turks first passed over into 
Europe and a few years later Adrianople was made their European capital. 
Under Bayazid (1389-1402), their dominions stretched from the ^Egaean to the 
Danube, embracing all Bulgaria, Macedonia, Thessaly and Thrace, with the 
exception of Chalkidike and the district just round Constantinople. Murad II. 
(1 421 -1 451) occupied Chalkidike and pushed his conquests to the Adriatic. 
Muhammad II. (1451-1481) by the overthrow of Constantinople, Albania, Bosnia 
and Servia, became master of the whole South-Eastern peninsula, with the 
exception of the parts of the coast held by Venice and Montenegro, Sulayman II. 
(i 520- 1 566) added Hungary and made the ^Egaean an Ottoman sea. In the 
seventeenth century Crete was won and Podolia ceded by Poland. 


re-establishment of order in that city, was to secure the allegi- 
ance of the Christians, by proclaiming himself the protector of 
the Greek church. Persecution of the Christians was strictly 
forbidden ; a decree was granted to the newly-elected patriarch 
which secured to him and his successors and the bishops under 
him, the enjoyment of the old privileges, revenues and exemp- 
tions enjoyed under the former rule. Gennadios, the first 
patriarch after the Turkish conquest, 'received from the hands of 
the Sultan himself the pastoral staff, which was the sign of his 
office, together with a purse of a thousand golden ducats and a 
horse with gorgeous trappings, on which he was privileged to 
ride with his train through the city. 1 But not only was the 
head of the church treated with all the respect he had been 
accustomed to receive from the Christian emperors, but further 
he was invested with extensive civil power. The patriarch's 
court sat to decide all cases between Greek and Greek : it could 
impose fines, imprison offenders in a prison provided for its own 
special use, and in some cases even condemn to capital punish- 
ment : while the ministers and officials of the government were 
directed to enforce its judgments. The complete control of 
spiritual and ecclesiastical matters (in which the Turkish govern- 
ment, unlike the civil power of the Byzantine empire, never 
interfered), was left entirely in his hands and those of the grand 
Synod which he could summon whenever he pleased ; and 
hereby he could decide all matters of faith and dogma without 
fear of interference on the part of the state. As a recognised 
officer of the imperial government, he could do much for the 
alleviation of the oppressed, by bringing the acts of unjust 
governors to 'the notice of the Sultan. The Greek bishops in the 
provinces in their turn were treated with great consideration and 
were entrusted with so much jurisdiction in civil affairs, that up 
to modern times they have acted in their dioceses as a kind of 
Ottoman prefects over the orthodox population, thus taking the 
place of the old Christian aristocracy which had been exter- 
minated by the conquerors, and we find that the higher clergy 
were generally more active as Turkish agents than as Greek 
priests, and they always taught their people that the Sultan 
possessed a divine sanction, as the protector of the orthodox 

1 Phrantzes, pp. 305-6. 


church. A charter was subsequently published, securing to the 
orthodox the use of such churches as had not been confiscated to 
form mosques, and authorising them to celebrate their religious 
rites publicly according to their national usages. 1 

Consequently, though the Greeks were numerically superior to 
the Turks in all the European provinces of the Empire, the 
religious toleration thus granted them, and the protection of life 
and property they enjoyed, soon reconciled them to the change 
of masters and led them to prefer the domination of the Sultan 
to that of any Christian power. Indeed, in many parts of the 
country, the Ottoman conquerors were welcomed by the Greeks 
as their deliverers from the rapacious and tyrannous rule of the 
Franks and the Venetians who had so long disputed with Byzan- 
tium for the possession of the Peloponnesos and some of the- 
adjacent parts of Greece ; by introducing into Greece the feudal 
system, these had reduced the people to the miserable condition 
of serfs, and as aliens in speech, race and creed, were hated by 
their subjects, 2 to whom a change of rulers, since it could not 
make their condition worse, would offer a possible chance of 
improving it, and though their deliverers were likewise aliens, yet 
the infidel Turk was infinitely to be preferred to the heretical 
Catholics. 3 The Greeks who lived under the immediate govern- 
ment of the Byzantine court, were equally unlikely to be averse 
to a change of rulers. The degradation and tyranny that charac- 
terised the dynasty of the Palaeologi are frightful to contemplate. 
" A corrupt aristocracy, a tyrannical and innumerable clergy, the. 
oppression of perverted law, the exactions of a despicable govern- 
ment, and still more, its monopolies, its fiscality, its armies of tax 
and custom collectors, left the degraded people neither rights nor 

1 Finlay, vol. iii. p. 522. Pitzipios, seconde partie, p. 75. M. d'Ohsson, 
vol. iii. p. 52-4. 

2 A traveller who visited Cyprus in 1508 draws the following picture of the 
tyranny of the Venetians in their foreign possessions: "All the inhabitants of 
Cyprus are slaves to the Venetians, being obliged to pay to the state a third part 
of all their increase or income, whether the product of their ground or corn, wine, 
oil, or of their cattle, or any other thing. Besides, every man of them is bound 
to work for the State two days of the week wherever they shall please to appoint 
him : and if any shall fail, by reason of some other business of their own, or for 
indisposition of body, then they are made to pay a fine for as many days as they 
are absent from their work : and which is more, there is yearly some tax or other 
imposed on them, with which the poor common people are so flead and pillaged, 
that they hardly have wherewithal to keep soul and body together." (The 
Travels of Martin Baumgarten, p. 373.) 

3 Finlay, vol. iii. p. 502. 


institutions, neither chance of amelioration nor hope of redress." 1 
Lest such a judgment appear dictated by a spirit of party bias, a 
contemporary authority may be appealed to in support of its 
correctness. The Russian annalists who speak of the fall of 
Constantinople bring a similar indictment against its government. 
** Without the fear of the law an empire is like a steed without 
Terns. Constantine and his ancestors allowed their grandees to 
oppress the people ; there was no more justice in their law 
courts ; no more courage in their hearts ; the judges amassed 
treasures from the tears and blood of the innocent ; the Greek 
soldiers were proud only of the magnificence of their dress ; the 
citizens did not blush at being traitors ; the soldiers were not 
ashamed to fly. At length the Lord poured out His thunder on 
these unworthy rulers, and raised up Muhammad, whose warriors 
delight in battle, and whose judges do not betray their trust." 2 
This last item of praise 3 may sound strange in the ears of a 
generation that for the last fifty years has constantly been called 
upon to protest against Turkish injustice ; but it is clearly and 
abundantly borne out by the testimony of contemporary his- 
torians. The Byzantine historian who has handed down to us 
the story of the capture of Constantinople tells us how even the 
impetuous Bayazid was liberal and generous to his Christian 
subjects, and made himself extremely popular among them by 
admitting them freely to his society. 4 Murad II. distinguished 
himself by his attention to the administration of justice and by 
Ms reforms of the abuses prevalent under the Greek emperors, and 
-punished without mercy those of his officials who oppressed any 
of his subjects. 5 For at least a century after the fall of Con- 
stantinople a series of able rulers secured, by a firm and vigorous 
administration, peace and order throughout their dominions, and 
an admirable civil and judicial organisation, if it did not provide 
an absolutely impartial justice for Muslims and Christians alike, 

1 Urquhart, quoted by Clark : Races of European Turkey, p. 82. 

2 Karamsin, vol. v. p. 437. 

3 Martin Crusius writes in the same spirit : "Et mirum est, inter barbaros, in 
tanta tanUe urbis colluvie, nullas credes audiri, vim iniustam non ferri, ius cuivis 
dici. Ideo Constantinopolin Sultanus, Refugium totius orbis scribit : quod 
omnes miseri, ibi tutissime latent : quodque omnibus (tarn infimis quam summis : 
tarn Christianis, quam infidelibus) iustitia administretur." (Turcogrsecia, p. 487.) 
(Basilew, 1584.) 

4 Phrantzes, p. 81. 5 Id. p. 92. 


yet caused the Greeks to be far better off than they had been 
before. They were harassed by fewer exactions of forced labour, 
extraordinary contributions were rarely levied, and the taxes they 
paid were a trifling burden compared with the endless feudal 
obligations of the Franks and the countless extortions of the 
Byzantines. The Turkish dominions were certainly better 
governed and more prosperous than most parts of Christian 
Europe, and the mass of the Christian population engaged in the 
cultivation of the soil enjoyed a larger measure of private liberty 
and of the fruits of their labour, under the government of the 
Sultan than their contemporaries did under that of many Christian 
monarchs. 1 A great impulse, too, was given to the commercial 
activity of the country, for the early Sultans were always ready 
to foster trade and commerce among their subjects, and many of 
the great cities entered upon an era of prosperity when the 
Turkish conquest had delivered them from the paralyzing fiscal 
oppression of the Byzantine empire, one of the first of them being 
Nicsea, which capitulated to Urkhan in 1330 under the most 
favourable terms after a long-protracted siege. 2 Like the ancient 
Romans, the Ottomans were great makers of roads and bridges, 
and thereby facilitated trade throughout their empire ; and 
foreign states were compelled to admit the Greek merchants into 
ports from which they had been excluded in the time of the 
Byzantine emperors, but now sailing under the Ottoman flag, 
they assumed the dress and manners of Turks, and thus secured 
from the nations of Western Europe the respect and consideration 
which the Catholics had hitherto always refused to the members 
of the Greek church. 3 

There is however one notable exception to this general good 
treatment and toleration, viz. the tribute of Christian children, 
who were forcibly taken from their parents at an early age and 
enrolled in the famous corps of Janissaries. Instituted by Urkhan 
in 1330, it formed for centuries the mainstay of the despotic power 
of the Turkish Sultans, and was kept alive by a regular contribu- 
tion exacted every four years, when the officers of the Sultan 
visited the districts on which the tax was imposed, and made a 
selection from among the children between the ages of six and 
nine. The Muhammadan legists attempted to apologise for this 

1 Finlay, vol. v. pp. 5, 123. 2 Hertzberg, pp. 467, 646, 650. 

8 Finlay, vol. v. p. 156-7. 



inhuman tribute by representing these children as the fifth of the 
spoil which the Qur'an assigns to the sovereign, 1 and they pre- 
scribed that the injunction against forcible conversion 2 should be 
observed with regard to them also, although the tender age at 
which they were placed under the instruction of Muslim teachers 
must have made it practically of none effect. 3 Christian Europe 
has always expressed its horror at such a barbarous tax, and 
travellers in the Turkish dominions have painted touching pic- 
tures of desolated homes and of parents weeping for the children 
torn from their arms. But when the corps was first instituted, 
its numbers were rapidly swelled by voluntary accessions from 
among the Christians themselves, 4 and the circumstances under 
which this tribute was first imposed may go far to explain the 
apathy which the Greeks themselves appear to have exhibited. 
The whole country had been laid waste by war, and families were 
often in danger of perishing with hunger ; the children who were 
thus adopted were in many cases orphans, who would otherwise 
have been left to perish ; further, the custom so widely prevalent 
at that time of selling Christians as slaves may have made this 
tax appear less appalling than might have been expected. This 
custom has, moreover, been maintained to have been only a 
continuation of a similar usage that was in force under the 
Byzantine emperors. 5 It has even been said that there was 
seldom any necessity of an appeal to force on the part of the 
officers who collected the appointed number of children, but 
rather that the parents were often eager to have their children 
enrolled in a service that secured for them in many cases a 
brilliant career, and under any circumstances a well-cared -for and 
comfortable existence, since these little captives were brought up 
and educated as if they were the Sultan's own children. 6 This 

1 Qur'an, viii. 42. 3 Qur'an, x. 99, 100. 

3 "On ne forcait cependant pas les jeunes Chretiens a changer de foi. Les 
principes du gouvernement s'y opposaient aussi bien que les preceptes du 
Cour'ann ; et si des officiers, mus par leur fanatisme, usaient quelquefois de con- 
trainte, leur conduite a cet egard pouvait bien etre toleree ; mais elle n'efait 
jamais autorise*e par les chefs." (M. d'Ohsson, tome iii. pp. 397-8.) 

* Hertzberg, p. 472. 

4 " Sed hoc tristissimum est, quod, ut olim Christiani imperatores, ex singulis 
oppidis, certum numerum liberorum, in quibus egregia indoles pne cseteris 
elucebat, delegerunt : quos ad publica officia militiae togatae et bellicae in Aula 
educari curarunt : ita Turci, occupato Gnecorum imperio, idem ius eripiendi 
patribus familias liberos ingeniis cximiis praeditos, usurpant." (David Chytrxus, 
pp. 12-13) 

6 Creasy, p. 99. M. d'Ohsson. tome iii. p. 397. 


institution appears in a less barbarous light if it be true that the 
parents could often redeem their children by a money payment. 1 
These extenuating circumstances at the outset, and the ease with 
which men acquiesce in any established usage though serving in 
no way as an excuse for so inhuman an institution may help us 
to understand the readiness with which the Greeks seem to have 
fallen in with this demand of the new government that so 
materially improved their condition. 

Further, the Christian subjects of the Turkish empire had to 
pay the capitation tax, in return for protection and in lieu of 
military service. The rates fixed by the Ottoman law were 2^, 5 
and 10 piastres a head for every full-grown male, according to his 
income. 2 Christian writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries generally speak of this tax as being a ducat a head, 3 but 
it is also variously described as amounting to 3, 5 or 5 J crowns or 
dollars. 4 The fluctuating exchange value of the Turkish coinage 
in the seventeenth century is the probable explanation of the 
latter variations. To estimate with any exactitude how far this 
tax was a burden to those who had to pay it, would require a 
lengthened disquisition on the purchasing value of money at that 
period and a comparison with other items of expenditure. 5 But 
by itself it could hardly have formed a valid excuse for a change 
of faith, as Tournefort points out, when writing in 1700 of the con- 
version of the Candiots : " It must be confessed, these Wretches 

1 "Verum tamen hos (liberos) pecunia redimere a conquisitoribus saepe 
parentibus licet." (David Chytrseus, p. 13.) De la Guilletiere mentions it in 
1669 as one of the privileges of the Athenians. (An account of a late voyage to 
Athens, p. 272.) (London, 1676.) 

2 Joseph von Hammer (2), vol. ii. p. 1 5 1. 

3 Martin Crusius, p. 487 ; Sansovino, p. 67 ; Georgieviz, p. 98-9 ; Scheffler, 
56 ; Hertzberg, p. 648 ; De la Jonquiere, p. 267. 

4 Georgirenes, p. 9 ; Tournefort, vol. i. p. 91 ; Tavernier (3), p. II. 

6 In a work published by Joseph Georgirenes, Archbishop of Samos, in 1678, 
during a visit to London, he gives us an account of the income of his own see, 
the details of which are not likely to have been considered extortionate, as they 
were here set down for the benefit of English readers : in comparing the sums 
here mentioned, it should be borne in mind that he speaks of the capitation-tax as 
being three crowns or dollars (p. 8-9). " At his (i.e. the Archbishop's) first 
coming, the Papas or Parish Priest of the Church of his Residence presents him 
fifteen or twenty dollers, they of the other Churches according to their Abilities. 
The first year of his coming, every Parish Priest pays him four dollers, and the 
following year two. Every Layman pays him forty-eight aspers (In the 
commercial treaty with England, concluded in the year 1675, the value of the 
dollar was fixed at eighty aspers (Finlay, v. 28) and the following years twenty- 
four. The Samians pay one Doller for a Licence ; all Strangers two ; but he that 
comes after first marriage for a Licence for a second or third, pays three or four " 
(PP- 33-4-) 

K 2 


sell their Souls a Pennyworth : all they get in exchange for their 
Religion, is a Vest, and the Privilege of being exempt from the 
Capitation-Tax, which is not above five Crowns a year." 1 
Scheffler also, who is anxious to represent the condition of the 
Christians under Turkish rule in as black colours as possible, 
admits that the one ducat a head was a trifling matter, and has to 
lay stress on the extraordinary taxes, war contributions, etc., that 
they were called upon to pay. 2 The land taxes were the same both 
for Christians and Musalmans, 8 for the old distinction between lands 
on which tithe was paid by the Muhammadan proprietor, and 
those on which kharaj was paid by the non-Muhammadan 
proprietor, was not recognised by the Ottomans. 4 Whatever 
sufferings the Christians had to endure proceeded from the 
tyranny of individuals, who took advantage of their official 
position to extort money from those under their jurisdiction. 
Such acts of oppression were not only contrary to the Muham- 
madan law, but were rare before the central government had 
grown weak and suffered the corruption and injustice of local 
authorities to go unpunished. 5 There is a very marked difference 
between the accounts we have of the condition of the Christians 
during the first two centuries of the Turkish rule in Europe and 
those of a later date, when the period of decadence had fully set 
in. But it is very noticeable that in those very times in which 
the condition of the Christians had been most intolerable there is 
least record of conversion to Islam. In the eighteenth century, 
when the condition of the Christians was worse than at any other 

1 Tournefort, vol. i. p. 91. 

2 Scheffler, 56. " Was aber auch den Ducaten anbelangt, so werdet ihr mit 
demselben in eurem Sinn ebener massen greulich betrogen. Denn es ist zwar 
wahr, dass der Tiirckische Kayser ordentlich nicht mehr nimt als vom Haupt 
einen Ducaten : aber wo bleiben die Zolle und ausserordentliche Anlagen ? 
nehmen dann seine Konigliche Verweser und Hauptleute nichts? muss man zu 
Kriegen nichts ausser ordentlich geben ? . . . . Was aber die ausser ordentliche 
Anlagen betrifft ; die steigen una fallen nach den bosen Zeiten, und miissen von 
den Turckischen Unterthanen so wohl gegeben werden als bey uns." 

8 Finlay, vol. v. p. 24-5. 

4 Hammer (2), vol. i. p. 346. 

6 " The hard lot of the Christian subjects of the Sultan has at all times arisen 
from the fact that the central authority at Constantinople has but little real 
authority throughout the Empire of Turkey. It is the petty tyranny of the 
village officials, sharpened by personal hatred, which has instigated those acts of 
atrocity to which, both in former times, and still more at the present day, the 
Christians in Turkey are subjected. In the days of a nation's greatness justice 
and even magnanimity towards a subject race are possible ; these, however, are 
rarely found to exist in the time of a nation's decay." Rev. W. Denton : Servia 
and the Servians, p. 15. (London, 1862.) 


period, we find hardly any mention of conversions at all, and the 
Turks themselves are represented as utterly indifferent to the 
progress of their religion and considerably infected with scepticism 
and unbelief. 1 A further proof that their sufferings have been due 
to misgovernment rather than to religious persecution is the fact 
that Muslims and Christians suffered alike. 3 The Christians 
would, however, naturally be more exposed to extortion and 
ill-treatment owing to the difficulties that lay in the way of 
obtaining redress at law, and some of the poorest may thus have 
sought a relief from their sufferings in a change of faith. 

But if we except the tribute of the children, to which the con- 
quered Greeks seem to have submitted with so little show of 
resistance, and which owed its abolition, not to any revolt or 
insurrection against its continuance, but to the increase of the 
Turkish population and of the number of the renegades who 
were constantly entering the Sultan's service, 3 the treatment of 

1 Businello, pp. 43-4. 

2 "The central government of the Sultan has generally treated its Mussulman 
subjects with as much cruelty and injustice as the conquered Christians. The 
sufferings of the Greeks were caused by the insolence and oppression of the 
ruling class and the corruption that reigned in the Othoman administration, 
rather than by the direct exercise of the sultan's power. In his private affairs, a 
Greek had a better chance of obtaining justice from his bishop and the elders of 
his district than a Turk from the cadi or the voivode." (Finlay, vol. vi. pp. 4-5.) 

" It would be a mistake to suppose that the Christians are the only part of the 
population that is oppressed and miserable. Turkish misgovernment is uniform, 
and falls with a heavy hand upon all alike. In some parts of the kingdom the 
poverty of the Mussulmans may be actually worse than the poverty of the 
Christians, and it is their condition which most excites the pity of the traveller." 
(William Forsyth : The Slavonic Provinces South of the Danube, pp. 157-8.) 
(London, 1876.) 

"All this oppression and misery (i.e. in the north of Asia Minor) falls upon 
the Mohammedan population equally with the Christian.'' (James Bryce : 
Transcaucasia and Ararat, p. 381.) 

"L'Europe s'imagine que les chretiens seuls sont soumis, en Turquie, a 
l'arbitraire, aux souffrances, aux avilissements de toute nature, qui naissent de 
l'oppression ; il n'en est rien ! Les musulmans, precisement parce que nulle 
puissance etrangere ne s'interesse a eux, sont peut-etre plus indignement spolies, 
plus corbes sous le joug que ceux qui meconnaissent le prophete." (De la 
Jonquiere, p. 507.) 

* To judge from what we have already observed, the lowest order of Christians 
are not in a worse condition in Asia Minor than the same class of Turks ; and if 
the Christians of European Turkey have some advantages arising from the effects 
of the superiority of their numbers over the Turks, those of Asia have the 
satisfaction of seeing that the Turks are as much oppressed by the men in power 
as they are themselves ; and they have to deal with a race of Mussulmans 
generally milder, more religious, and better principled than those of Europe." 
( W. M. Leake : Journal of a Tour in Asia Minor, p. 7.) (London, 1824.) 

Cf. also Laurence Oliphant : The Land of Gilead, pp. 320-3, 446. (London, 1880.) 

3 It was in the sixteenth century that the tribute of children fell into desuetude, 
and the last recorded example of its exaction was in the year 1676. 


their Christian subjects by the Ottoman emperors at least for 
two centuries after their conquest of Greece exhibits a toleration 
such as was at that time quite unknown in the rest of Europe. 
The Calvinists of Hungary and Transylvania, and the Unitarians 
of the latter country, long preferred to submit to the Turks 
rather than fall into the hands of the fanatical house of Haps- 
burg 1 ; and the Protestants of Silesia looked with longing eyes 
towards Turkey, and would gladly have purchased religious free- 
dom at the price of submission to the Muslim rule. 3 It was to 
Turkey that the persecuted Spanish Jews fled for refuge in 
enormous numbers at the end of the fifteenth century, 3 and the 
Cossacks who belonged to the sect of the Old Believers and were 
persecuted by the Russian state church, found in the dominions of 
the Sultan the toleration which their Christian brethren denied 
them.* Well might Macarius, Patriarch of Antioch in the 
seventeenth century, congratulate himself when he saw the 
fearful atrocities that the Catholic Poles inflicted on the Russians 
of the Orthodox Eastern Church : " We all wept much over the 
thousands of martyrs who were killed by those impious wretches, 
the enemies of the faith, in these forty or fifty years. The 
number probably amounted to seventy or eighty thousand souls. 
O you infidels ! O you monsters of impurity ! O you hearts of 
stone ! What had the nuns and women done ? What the girls 
and boys and infant children, that you should murder them ? 
.... And why do I pronounce them (the Poles) accursed ? 
Because they have shown themselves more debased and wicked 
than the corrupt worshippers of idols, by their cruel treatment 
of Christians, thinking to abolish the very name of Orthodox. 
God perpetuate the empire of the Turks for ever and ever ! 
For they take their impost, and enter into no account of religion, 
be their subjects Christians or Nazarenes, Jews or Samaritans : 

1 De la Jonquiere, p. 333 ; Scheffler, 45-6. 

3 " Denn ich hore mit grosser Verwunderung und Bestiirtzung, dass nicht 
allein unter den gemeinen Povel Reden im Schwange gehn, es sey unter dem 
Tiircken auch gut wohnen : warm man einen Ducaten von Haupt gcbe, so ware 
man frey ; Item er liesse die Religion frey ; man wiirde die Kirchen wieder 
bekommen ; und was vergleichen : sondern dass auch andre, die es wol besser 
verstehen sollten, sich dessen erfreuen, und iiber ihr eigen Ungluck frolockcn ! 
welches nicht allein Halssbriichige, sondern auch Gottlose Vermessenheiten 
seynd, die aus keinem andrem Grunde, als aus dem Geist der Ketzerey, der zum 
Auffruhr und gantzlicher Ausreitung des Christenthumbs geneigt ist, herkommen." 
(Scheffler, 5 48.) 

8 Hertzberg. p. 650. 4 De la Jonquiere, p. 34. 


whereas these accursed Poles were not content with taxes and 
tithes from the brethren of Christ, though willing to serve them ; 
but they subjected them to the authority of the enemies of 
Christ, the tyrannical Jews, who did not even permit them to 
build churches, nor leave them any priests that knew the 
mysteries of their faith." 1 The Greeks of the Morea in the 
seventeenth century, after enduring the yoke of the Venetians 
for fourteen years (1685-1699), gladly welcomed back their 
former masters, the Turks, whose rule was no untried experience 
to them. 2 Even in Italy there were men who turned longing 
eyes towards the Turks in the hope that as their subjects they 
might enjoy the freedom and the toleration they despaired of 
enjoying under a Christian government. 8 It is then clear that 
Islam was not spread by force in the dominion of the Sultan of 
Turkey, and though the want of even-handed justice and the 
oppression of unscrupulous officials in' the days of the empire's 
decline, may have driven some Christians to attempt to better 
their condition by a change of faith, such cases were rare in the 
first two centuries of the Turkish rule in Europe, to which period 
the mass of conversions belong. It would have been wonderful 
indeed if the ardour of proselytising that animated the Ottomans 
at this time had never carried them beyond the bounds of tolera- 
tion established by their own laws. Yet it has been said by one 
who was a captive among them for twenty-two years that the 
Turks "compelled no one to renounce his faith." 4 Similar 
testimony is borne by others : an English gentleman who visited 
Turkey in the early part of the seventeenth century, tells us that 
" There is seldom any compulsion of conscience, and then not by 
death, where no criminal offence gives occasion." 5 Writing 
about thirty years later (in 1663), the author 6 of a Tiircken- 
Schrifft says, "Meanwhile he (i.e. the Turk) wins (converts) by 
craft more than by force, and snatches away Christ by fraud out 

1 Macarius, vol. i. pp. 183, 165. 

2 De la Jonquiere, p. 342. Finlay, vol. v. p. 222. 

3 " Alii speciem sibi quandam confixerunt stultam libertatis .... quod quum 
sub Christiano consequuturos se desperent, ideo vel Turcam mallent : quasi is 
henignior sit in largienda libertate hac, quam Christianus." (Ioannis Ludovici 
Vivis De Conditione Vita; Christianorum sub) Turca, pp. 220, 225.) (Basilese, 
T 53^-) " Quidam obganniunt, liberam esse sub Turca fidem." (Othonis 
Brunfelsii ad Principes et Christianos omnes Oratio, p. 133.) (Basilese, 1538.) 

4 Turchicae spurcitias suggillatio, fol. xvii. a. 

5 Blount, vol. i. p. 548. 6 Scheffler, 51, 53. 


of the hearts of men. For the Turk, it is true, at the present 
time compels no country by violence to apostatise ; but he uses 
other means whereby imperceptibly he roots out Christianity 
.... What then has become of the Christians ? They are not 
expelled from the country, neither are they forced to embrace the 
Turkish faith : then they must of themselves have been con- 
verted into Turks." 

The Turks considered that the greatest kindness they could 
show a man was to bring him into the salvation of the faith of 
Islam, 1 and to this end they left no method of persuasion untried : 
a Dutch traveller of the sixteenth century, tells us that while he 
was admiring the great mosque of Santa Sophia, some Turks even 
tried to work upon his religious feelings through his aesthetic 
sense, saying to him, " If you become a Musalman, you will be 
able to come here every day of your life." About a century later, 
an English traveller 3 had a similar experience : " Sometimes out of 
an excess of zeal, they will ask a Christian civilly enough, as I have 
been asked myself in the Portico of Sancta Sophia, why will you 
not turn Musalman, and be as one of us ? " The public rejoicings 
that hailed the accession of a new convert to the faith, testify to 
the ardent love for souls which made these men such zealous 
proselytisers. The new Muslim was set upon a horse and led in 
triumph through the streets of the city. If he was known to be 
genuinely honest in his change of faith and had voluntarily 
entered the pale of Islam, or if he was a person of good position, 
he was received with high honour and some provision made for 
his support. 3 There was certainly abundant evidence for saying 
that a The Turks are preposterously zealous in praying for the 
conversion, or perversion rather, of Christians to their irreligious 
religion : they pray heartily, and every day in their Temples, 
that Christians may imbrace the Alcoran, and become their 
Proselytes, in effecting of which they leave no means unassaied 
by fear and flattery, by punishments and rewards." 4 

These zealous efforts for winning converts were rendered the 

1 Dousa, p. 38. Busbecq. p. 190. 

2 Thomas Smith, p. 32. 

1 Thomas Smith, p. 42. Blount, vol. i. p. 548. Georgieviz, p. 20. 

4 Alexander Ross, p. ix. Cf. also Rycaut, vol. i. p. 276. " On croit meriter 
bcaucoup que tie faire un Proselyte, il n'y a personne assez riche pour avoir un 
esclave qui n'en veuille un jeune, qui soit capable He recevoir sans peine toutes 
sortes d'impressions, et qu'il puisse appeller son converti, afin de meriter l'honneur 
d'avoir augments 1c nombrc des fidHes." 


more effective by certain conditions of Christian society itself. 
Foremost among these was the degraded condition of the. Greek 
Church. Side by side with the civil despotism of the Byzantine 
empire, had arisen an ecclesiastical despotism which had crushed 
all energy of intellectual life under the weight of a dogmatism 
that interdicted all discussion in matters of morals and religion. 
The only thing that disturbed this lethargy was the fierce con- 
troversial war waged against the Latin Church with all the bitter- 
ness of theological polemics and race hatred. The religion of the 
people had degenerated into a scrupulous observance of outward 
forms, and the intense fervour of their devotion found an outlet 
in the worship of the Virgin and the saints, of pictures and relics. 
There were many who turned from a church whose spiritual life 
had sunk so low, and weary of interminable discussions on such 
subtle points of doctrine as the Double Procession of the Holy 
Spirit, and such trivialities as the use of leavened and unleavened 
bread in the Blessed Sacrament, gladly accepted the clear and 
intelligible theistic teaching of Islam. We are told 1 of large 
numbers of persons being converted, not only from among the 
simple folk, but also learned men of every class, rank and con- 
dition ; of how the Turks made a better provision for those 
monks and priests who embraced the Muslim creed, in order that 
their example might lead others to be converted. While 
Adrianople was still the Turkish capital (i.e. before 1453), the 
court was thronged with renegades and they are said to have 
formed the majority of the magnates there. 2 Byzantine princes 
and others often passed over to the side of the Muhammadans, 
and received a ready welcome among them : one of the earliest 
of such cases dates from 1140 when a nephew of the emperor 
John Comnenes embraced Islam and married a daughter of 
Mas'ud, the Sultan of Iconium. 5 After the fall of Constantinople, 

1 By an anonymous writer who was a captive in Turkey from 1436 to 145S. 
Turchicae spurcitias suggillatio, fol. xvii. (a.) 

2 Turchicae spurcitiae suggillatio, fol. xi. (b.) Lionardo of Scio, Archbishop of 
Mitylene, who was present at the taking of Constantinople, speaks of the large 
number of renegades in the besieging army: "Chi circondo la citta, e chi 
insegno a' turchi l'ordine, se non i pessimi christiani ? Io son testimonio, che i 
Greci, ch' i Latini, che i Tedeschi, che gli Ungari, e che ogni altra generation di 
christiani, mescolati co' turchi impararono l'opere e la fede loro, i quali 
domenticatisi della fede Christiana, espugnavano la citta O empij che rinegasti 
Christo. O settatori di antichristo, dannati alle pene infernali, queato e hora il 
vostro tempo." (Sansovino, p. 258.) 

3 J. II. Krattse: Die Byzantiner des Mittelalters, pp. 385-6. (Halle, 1869.) 


the upper classes of Christian society showed much more readi- 
ness to embrace Islam than the mass of the Greeks ; among the 
converts we meet with several bearing the name of the late 
imperial family of the Palaeologi, and the learned George 
Amiroutzes of Trebizond abandoned Christianity in his declining 
years, and the names of many other such individuals have found 
a record. 1 The new religion only demanded assent to its simple 
creed " There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet 
of God " ; as the above-mentioned writer 2 says, " The whole 
difficulty lies in this profession of faith. For if only a man can 
persuade himself that he is a worshipper of the One God, the 
poison of his error easily infects him under the guise of religion. 
This is the rock of offence on which many have struck and fallen 
into the snare that has brought perdition on their souls. This is 
the mill-stone that hung about the necks of many has plunged 
them into the pit of despair. For when these fools hear the 
Turks execrate idolatry and express their horror of every image 
and picture as though it were the fire of hell, and so continually 
profess and preach the worship of One God, there no longer 
remains any room for suspicion in their minds." 

The faith of Islam would now be the natural refuge for those 
members of the Eastern Church who felt such yearnings after a 
purer and simpler form of doctrine as had given rise to the 
Paulician heresy so fiercely suppressed a few centuries before. 
This movement had been very largely a protest against the 
superstitions of the Orthodox Church, against the worship ot 
images, relics and saints, and an effort after simplicity of faith and 
the devout life. As some adherents of this heresy were to be 
found in Bulgaria even so late as the seventeenth century, 3 the 
Muhammadan conquerors doubtless found many who were dis- 
satisfied with the doctrine and practice of the Greek Church ; and 
as all the conditions were unfavourable to the formation of any 
such Protestant Churches as arose in the West, such dissentient 
spirits would doubtless find a more congenial atmosphere in the 
religion of Islam. There is every reason to think that such was 
the result of the unsuccessful attempt to Protestantise the Greek 
Church in the beginning of the seventeenth century. The guiding 

1 Hertzberg, p. 616. Finlay, vol. v. p. 118. 
3 Turchicae Spurcitiae Suggillatio, fol. xix. (a.) 
1 Rycaut, vol. i. pp. 710-71 1. Bizzi, fol. 49 (b.) 


spirit of this movement was Cyril Lucaris, five times Patriarch of 
Constantinople, from 1621 to 1638 ; as a young man he had 
visited the Universities of Wittenberg and Geneva, for the pur- 
pose of studying theology in the seats of Protestant learning, and 
on his return he kept up a correspondence with doctors of the 
reformed faith in Geneva, Holland and England. But neither the 
doctrines of the Church of England nor of the Lutherans attracted 
his sympathies so warmly as the teachings of John Calvin, 1 
which he strove to introduce into the Greek Church ; his efforts 
in this direction were warmly supported by the Calvinists of 
Geneva, who sent a learned young theologian, named Leger, to 
assist the work by translating into Greek the writings of Calvinist 
theologians. 3 Cyril also found warm friends in the Protestant 
embassies at Constantinople, the Dutch and English ambassadors 
especially assisting him liberally with funds ; the Jesuits, on the 
other hand, supported by the Catholic ambassadors, tried in every 
way to thwart this attempt to Calvinise the Greek Church, and 
actively seconded the intrigues of the party of opposition among 
the Greek clergy, who finally compassed the death of the 
Patriarch. In 1629 Cyril published a Confession of Faith, the 
main object of which seems to have been to present the doctrines 
of the Orthodox Church in their opposition to Roman Catholicism 
in such a way as to imply a necessary accord with Protestant 
teaching. 3 From Calvin he borrows the doctrines of Predestina- 
tion and salvation by faith alone, he denies the infallibility of the 
Church, rejects the authority of the Church in the interpretation 
of Holy Scripture, and condemns the adoration of pictures : in 
his account of the will and in many other questions, he inclines 
rather to Calvinism than to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. 4 
The promulgation of this Confession of Faith as representing the 
teaching of the whole Church of which he was the spiritual head, 
excited violent opposition among the mass of the Greek clergy, 
and a few weeks after Cyril's death a synod was held to condemn 
his opinions and pronounce him to be Anathema ; in 1642 a 
second synod was held at Constantinople for the same purpose, 
which after refuting each article of Cyril's Confession in detail, as 
the first had done, thus fulminated its curse upon him and his 
followers : " With one consent and in unqualified terms, we 

1 Pichler, pp. 164, 172. 2 Id. p. 143. 

3 Id. p. 148. 4 Id. pp. 183.9. 


condemn this whole Confession as full of heresies and utterly 
opposed to our orthodoxy, and likewise declare that its compiler 
has nothing in common with our faith, but in calumnious fashion 
has falsely charged his own Calvinism on us. All those who read 
and keep it as true and blameless, and defend it by written word 
or speech, we thrust out of the community of the faithful as 
followers and partakers of his heresy and corrupters of the 
Christian Church, and command that whatever be their rank and 
station, they be treated as heathen and publicans. Let them be 
laid under an anathema for ever and cut off from the Father, the 
Son and the Holy Ghost in this life and in the life to come, 
accursed, excommunicated, be lost after death, and be partakers 
of everlasting punishment." 1 In 1672 a third synod met at 
Jerusalem to repudiate the heretical articles of this Confession 
of Faith and vindicate the orthodoxy of the Greek Church 
against those who represented her as infected with Calvinism. 
The attempt to Protestantise the Greek Church thus completely 
failed to achieve success : the doctrines of Calvin were diametri- 
cally opposed to her teachings, and indeed inculcated many 
articles of faith which were more in harmony with the tenets of 
Muslim theologians than with those of the orthodox Church, and 
which moreover she had often attacked in her controversies with 
her Muhammadan adversaries. It is this approximation to Islamic 
thought which gives this movement towards Calvinism a place in 
a history of the spread of Islam : a man who inveighed against 
the adoration of pictures, decried the authority and the very 
institution of the priesthood, maintained the doctrines of absolute 
Predestination, denied freedom to the human will, and was in 
sympathy with the stern spirit of Calvinism that had more in 
common with the Old than the New Testament, would certainly 
find a more congenial atmosphere in Islam than in the Greek 
Church of the seventeenth century, and there can be little doubt 
that among the numerous converts to Islam during that century 
were to be found men who had been alienated from the Church 
of their fathers through their leanings towards Calvinism. 2 We 
have no definite information as to the number of the followers oi 

1 Pichler, p. 226. 

3 As regards the Christian captives the Protestants certainly had the reputation 
among the Turks of showing a greater inclination towards conversion than the 
Catholics.' (Gmelin, p. 21.) 


Cyril Lucaris and the extent of Calvinistic influences in the Greek 
Church ; the clergy, jealous of the reputation of their church, 
whose orthodoxy and immunity from heresy were so boastfully 
vindicated by her children, and had thus been impugned through 
the suspicion of Calvinism, wished to represent the heretical 
patriarch as standing alone in his opinions. 1 But a following he 
undoubtedly had : his Confession of Faith had received the 
sanction of a synod composed of his followers ; 2 those who 
sympathised with his heresies were anathematised both by the 
second synod of Constantinople (1642) and by the synod of 
Jerusalem (1672) 3 surely a meaningless repetition, had no such 
persons existed ; moreover the names of some few of these have 
come down to us : Sophronius, Metropolitan of Athens, was a 
warm supporter of the Reformation ; 4 a monk named Nicodemus 
Metaras, who had brought a printing-press from London and 
issued heretical treatises therefrom, was rewarded with a metro- 
politan see by Cyril in return for his services ; 5 the philosopher 
Corydaleus, a friend of Cyril, opened a Calvinistic school in Con- 
stantinople, and another Greek, Gerganos, published a Catechism 
so as to introduce the teachings of Calvin among his fellow-coun- 
trymen. 6 In a letter to the University of Geneva (dated July, 1636), 
Cyril writes that Leger had gained a large number of converts to 
Calvinism by his writings and preaching 7 ; in another letter 
addressed to Leger, he describes how he had made his influence felt 
in Candia. 8 His successor in the patriarchal chair was banished 
to Carthage and there strangled by the adherents of Lucaris in 
1639. 9 Parthenius II., who was Patriarch of Constantinople from 
1644 to 1646, was at heart a thorough Calvinist, and though he 
did not venture openly to teach the doctrines of Calvin, still his 
known sympathy with them caused him to be deposed and sent 
into exile. 10 Thus the influence of Calvinism was undoubtedly 
more widespread than the enemies of Cyril Lucaris were willing 
to admit and, as stated above, those who refused to bow to the 
anathemas of the synods that condemned their leader, had cer- 
tainly more in common with their Muhammadan neighbours 

1 Pichler, pp. 211, 227. 2 Id. p. 228, 181. 

3 Id. pp. 222, 226. 4 Id. p. 173. 

'* Id. pp. 128, 132, 143. 6 Id. p. 143. 

7 Id. p. 172. 8 Hefele, vol. i. p. 473. 

9 Le Quien, torn. i. p. 335. 10 Id. torn. i. p. 337. 


than with the Orthodox clergy who cast them out of their midst. 
There is no actual evidence, it is true, of Calvinistic influences in 
Turkey facilitating conversion to Islam, 1 but in the absence of 
any other explanation it certainly seems a very plausible conjec- 
ture that such were among the factors that so enormously in- 
creased the number of the Greek renegades towards the middle of 
the seventeenth century a period during which the number of 
renegades from among the middle and lower orders of society is 
said to have been more considerable than at any other time. 2 
Frequent mention is made of cases of apostacy from among the 
clergy, and even among the highest dignitaries of the Church, 
such as a former Metropolitan of Rhodes. 8 In 1676 it is said that 
in Corinth some Christian people went over every day to M the 
Turkish abomination," and that three priests had become Musal- 
mans the year before 4 ; in 1679 is recorded the death of a rene- 
gade monk. 5 On the occasion of the circumcision of Mu?tafa, son 
of Muhammad IV., in 1675, there were at least two hundred 
proselytes made during the thirteen days of public rejoicing, 6 and 
numerous other instances may be found in writings of this period. 
A contemporary writer (1663) has well described the mental 
attitude of such converts. " When you mix with the Turks in 
the ordinary intercourse of life and see that they pray and sing 
even the Psalms of David ; that they give alms and do other good 
works ; that they think highly of Christ, hold the Bible in great 
honour, and the like ; that, besides, any ass may become parish 
priest who plies the Bassa with presents, and he will not urge 
Christianity on you very much ; so you will come to think that 
they are good people and will very probably be saved ; and so you 
will come to believe that you too may be saved, if you likewise 
become Turks. Herewith will the Holy Triunity and the cruci- 
fied Son of God, with many other mysteries of the faith, which 
seem quite absurd to the unenlightened reason, easily pass out of 
your thoughts, and imperceptibly Christianity will quite die out 

1 However, in an earlier attempt made by the Protestant theologians of 
Tubingen (1573-77) to introduce the doctrines of the reformed church into the 
eastern church, the Vaivode Quarquar of Samtskheth in Georgia, embraced the 
Confession of Augsburg, but in 15N0 became a Muslim. (Joselian, p. 140.) 

3 Scheffler, $ 53-6. Finlay, vol v. pp. 118-9. 

3 Hammer (1), vol. vi. p. 94. 4 Spon, vol. ii. p. 57. 

6 Hammer (1), vol. vi. p. 364. 

6 Early Voyages and Travels in the Levant, edited by J. Theodore Bent, p. 210 
(London, 1893.) 


in you, and you will think that it is all the same whether you be 
Christians or Turks." l 

Another feature in the condition of the Greek Church that 
contributed to the decay of its numbers, was the corruption 
and degradation of its pastors, particularly the higher clergy. 
The sees of bishops and archbishops were put up to auction to 
the highest bidders, and the purchasers sought to recoup 
themselves by exacting levies of all kinds from their flocks ; 
they burdened the unfortunate Christians with taxes ordinary and 
extraordinary, made them purchase all the sacraments at exorbi- 
tant rates, baptism, confession, holy communion, indulgences, 
and the right of Christian burial. Some of the clergy even 
formed an unholy alliance with the Janissaries, and several 
bishops had their names and those of their households inscribed 
on the list of one of their Ortas or regiments, the better to secure 
an immunity for their excesses and escape the punishment of 
their crimes under the protection of this corporation that the 
weakness of the Ottoman rulers had allowed to assume such a 
powerful position in the state. 2 The evidence of contemporary 
eye-witnesses to the oppressive behaviour of the Greek clergy 
presents a terrible picture of the sufferings of the Christians. 
Tournefort in 1700, after describing the election of a new 
Patriarch, says : We need not at all doubt but the new 
Patriarch makes the best of his time. Tyranny succeeds to 
Simony : the first thing he does is to signify the Sultan's order 
to all the Archbishops and Bishops of his clergy : his greatest 
study is to know exactly the revenues of each Prelate ; he imposes 
a tax upon them, and enjoins them very strictly by a second letter 
to send the sum demanded, otherwise their dioceses are adjudg'd 
to the highest bidder. The Prelates being used to this trade, 
never spare their Suffragans ; these latter torment the Papas : 
the Papas flea the Parishioners and hardly sprinkle the least 
drop of Holy Water, but what they are paid for beforehand." 

" If afterwards the Patriarch has occasion for money, he farms 
out the gathering of it to the highest bidder among the Turks : 
he that gives most for it, goes into Greece to cite the Prelates. 
Usually for twenty thousand crowns that the clergy is tax'd 
at, the Turk extorts two and twenty ; so that he has the two 

1 Scheffler, 55. 

2 Pitzipios, Seconde Partie, pp. 83-7. Pichler, p. 29. 


thousand crowns for his pains, besides having his charges borne 
in every diocese. In virtue of the agreement he has made with 
the Patriarch, he deprives and interdicts from all ecclesiastical 
functions, those prelates who refuse to pay their tax." } The 
Christian clergy are even said to have carried off the children of 
their parishioners and sold them as slaves, to get money for their 
simoniacal designs. 2 

The extortions practised in the seventeenth have found their 
counterpart in the present century, and the sufferings of the 
Christians of the Greek Church in Bosnia, before the Austrian 
occupation, exactly illustrate the words of Tournefort. The 
Metropolitan of Serajevo used to wring as much as 10,000 a 
year from his miserable flock a sum exactly double the salary of 
the Turkish Governor himself and to raise this enormous sum 
the unfortunate parishioners were squeezed in every possible way, 
and the Turkish authorities had orders to assist the clergy in 
levying their exactions ; and whole Christian villages suffered the 
fate of sacked cities, for refusing, or often being unable, to comply 
with the exorbitant demands of Christian Prelates. 1 * Such un- 
bearable oppression on the part of the spiritual leaders who should 
protect the Christian population, has often stirred it up to open 
revolt, whenever a favourable opportunity has offered itself. 4 

It is not surprising then to learn that many of the Christians 
went over to Islam, to deliver themselves from such tyranny. 5 

Though the mass of the parish clergy were innocent of the 
charges brought against their superiors, still they were very 
ignorant and illiterate. At the end of the seventeenth century, 
there were said to be hardly twelve persons in the whole Turkish 

1 Tournefort, vol. i. p. 107. Sport uses much the same language, vol. i. p. 56. 

2 Gaultier de Leslie, p. 137. 

3 A. J. Evans, p. 267. Similarly Mackenzie and Irby say : " In most parts of 
Old Serbia the idea we found associated with a bishop, was that of a person who 
carried off what few paras the Turks had left " (p. 258). A similar account of 
the clergy of the Greek Church is given by a writer in the Revue des Deux 
Mondes (tome 97, p. 336), who narrates the following story : " Au debut de 
ce siecle, a Tirnova, un certain pope du nom de Toachim, ador de ses ouailles, 
deteste" de son evque, recut l'ordre, un jour, de faire la corvee du fumier dans 
l'ecurie episcopale. II se rebifTa : aussitot la valetaille l'assaillit a coups de 
fourche. Mais notre homme tait vigoureux ; il se dbattit, et, laissant sa 
tunique en gage, s'en fut tout chaud chez le cadi. Le soleil n'etait pas couch* 
qu'il devenait bon Musulman.'' 

4 Pitzipios, Seconde Partie, p. 87. 

5 Id. Seconde Partie, p. 87. Pichler, p. 29. 

6 Finlay, vol. iv. pp. 153-4- 


dominions thoroughly skilled in the knowledge of the ancient 
Greek language ; it was considered a great merit in the clergy to 
be able to read, while they were quite ignorant of the meaning of 
the words of their service-books. 1 

While there was so much in the Christian society of the time, 
to repel, there was much in the character and life of the Turks to 
attract, and the superiority of the early Ottomans as compared 
with the degradation of the guides and teachers of the Christian 
church would naturally impress devout minds that revolted from 
the selfish ambition, simony and corruption of the Greek eccle- 
siastics. Christian writers constantly praise these Turks for the 
earnestness and intensity of their religious life ; their zeal in 
the performance of the observances prescribed by their faith ; 
the outward decency and modesty displayed in their apparel and 
mode of living ; the absence of ostentatious display and the 
simplicity of life observable even in the great and powerful. 2 The 
annalist of the embassy from the Emperor Leopold I. to the 
Ottoman Porte in 1665-6, especially eulogises the devoutness and 
regularity of the Turks in prayer, and he even goes so far as to 
say, "Nous devons dire a la confusion des Chretiens, que les 
Turcs temoignent beaucoup plus de soin et de zele a l'exercice de 
leur Religion : que les Chretiens n'en font paroitre a la pratique 

de la leur Mais ce qui passe tout ce que nous experi- 

mentons de devot entre les Chretiens : c'est que pendant le terns 
de la priere, vous ne voyez pas une personne distraite de ses 
yeux : vous n'en voyez pas une qui ne soit attachee a l'objet de 
sa priere : et pas une qui n'ait toute la reverence exterieure pour 
son Createur, qu'on peut exiger de la Creature." 3 

Even the behaviour of the soldiery receives its meed of praise. 
During the march of an army the inhabitants of the country, we 
are told by the secretary to the Embassy sent by Charles II. to 
the Sultan, had no complaints to make of being plundered or of 
their women being maltreated. All the taverns along the line of 
march were shut up and sealed two or three days before the arrival 
of the army, and no wine was allowed to be sold to the soldiers 
under pain of death. 4 

1 Tournefort, vol. i. p. 104. Cf. Pichler, pp. 29, 31. Spon, vol. i. p. 44. 

2 Turchicae spurcitise suggillatio, fol. xiii. (b) ; fol. xv. (b) ; fol. xvii. (b) ; 
fol. xx. (a). Veniero, pp. 32, 36. Busbecq, p. 174. 

3 Gaultier de Leslie, pp. 180, 182. 

4 Rycaut, vol. i. p. 689. See also Georgieviz, pp. 53-4, and Menavino, p. 73. 


Many a tribute of praise is given to the virtues of the Turks even 
by Christian writers who bore them no love ; one such who had a 
very poor opinion of their religion, 1 speaks of them as follows : 
u Even in the dirt of the Alcoran you shall find some jewels 
of Christian Virtues ; and indeed if Christians will but diligently 
read and observe the Laws and Histories of the Mahometans, they 
may blush to see how zealous they are in the works of devotion, 
piety, and charity, how devout, cleanly, and reverend in their 
Mosques, how obedient to their Priest, that even the great Turk 
himself will attempt nothing without consulting his Mufti ; how 
careful are they to observe their hours of prayer five times a day 
wherever they are, or however employed ? how constantly do they 
observe their Fasts from morning till night a whole month 
together ; how loving and charitable the Muslemans are to each 
other, and how careful of strangers, may be seen by their Hos- 
pitals, both for the Poor and for Travellers ; if we observe their 
Justice, Temperance, and other moral Vertues, we may truly 
blush at our own coldness, both in devotion and charity, at our 
injustice, intemperance, and oppression ; doubtless these Men 
will rise up in judgment against us ; and surely their devotion, 
piety, and works of mercy are main causes of the growth of 

The same conclusion is drawn by a modern historian, 2 who 
writes : " We find that many Greeks of high talent and moral 
character were so sensible of the superiority of the Mohammedans, 
that even when they escaped being drafted into the Sultan's 
household as tribute-children, they voluntarily embraced the faith 
of Mahomet. The moral superiority of Othoman society must be 
allowed to have had as much weight in causing these conversions, 
which were numerous in the fifteenth century, as the personal 
ambition of individuals." 

A generation that has watched the decay of the Turkish power 
in Europe and the successive curtailment of its territorial pos- 
sessions, and is accustomed to hearing it spoken of as the " sick 
man," destined to a speedy dissolution, must find it difficult to 

1 Alexander Ross, p. ix. ; he calls the Qur'an a "gallimaufry of Errors (a 
Brat as deformed as the Parent, and as full of Heresies, as his scald head was of 
scurf)," "ahodg podge made up of these four Ingredients. I. Of Contradic- 
tions. 2. Of Blasphemy. 3. Of ridiculous Fables. 4. Of Lyes." 

8 Finlay, vol. v. p. 29. 


realise the feelings which the Ottoman Empire inspired in the 
early days of its rise in Europe. The rapid and widespread 
success of the Turkish arms filled men's minds with terror and 
amazement. One Christian kingdom after another fell into their 
hands : Bulgaria, Servia, Bosnia, and Hungary yielded up their 
independence as Christian states. The proud Republic of Venice 
saw one possession after another wrested from it, until the Lion of 
St. Mark held sway on the shores of the Adriatic alone. Even 
the safety of the eternal City l itself was menaced by the capture 
of Otranto. Christian literature of the latter half of the fifteenth 
and of the sixteenth centuries is full of direful forebodings of the 
fate that threatened Christian Europe unless the victorious pro- 
gress of the Turk was arrested ; he is represented as a scourge in 
the hand of God for the punishment of the sins and backslidings 
of His people, or on the other hand as the unloosed power of the 
Devil working for the destruction of Christianity under the 
hypocritical guise of religion. But what is most important to 
notice here some men began to ask themselves, " Is it possible 
that God would allow the Muhammadans to increase in such 
countless numbers without good reason ? Is it conceivable that 
so many thousands are to be damned like one man ? How can 
such multitudes be opposed to the true faith ? since truth is 
stronger than error and is more loved and desired by all men, it is 
not possible for so many men to be fighting against it. How could 
they prevail against truth, since God always helps and upholds 
the truth ? How could their religion so marvellously increase, if 
built upon the rotten foundation of error ? " 2 Such thoughts, we 
are told, appealed strongly to the Christian peoples that lived 
under the Turkish rule and with especial force to the unhappy 
Christian captives who watched the years drag wearily on without 
hope of release or Respite from their misery. Can we be surprised 
when we find such an one asking himself ? " Surely if God were 
pleased with the faith to which you have clung, He would not 
have thus abandoned you, but would have helped you to gain 
your freedom and return to it again. But as He has closed every 

1 And the bright Crescent haunted Europe's eye, 

Till many a Pope believed the demon Turks 

Would scour the Vatican, ere he could die. 

Lord Houghton's Poetical Works, vol. i. pp. 1 41-2. 
3 Turchicse spurcitise suggillatio, fol. xii. (b), xiii. (a). 

L 2 


avenue of freedom to you, perchance it is His pleasure that you 
should leave it and join this sect and be saved therein. " l 

The Christian slave who thus describes the doubts that arose in 
his mind as the slow-passing years brought no relief, doubtless 
gives expression here to thoughts that suggested themselves to 
many a hapless Christian captive with overwhelming persistency, 
until at last he broke away from the ties of his old faith and 
embraced Islam. Many who would have been ready to die as 
martyrs for the Christian religion if the mythical choice between the 
Qur'an and the sword had been offered them, felt more and more 
strongly, after long years of captivity, the influence of Muham- 
madan thought and practice, and humanity won converts where 
violence would have failed. 2 For though the lot of many of the 
Christian captives was a very pitiable one, others who held 
positions in the households of private individuals, were often no 
worse off than domestic servants in the rest of Europe. As 
organised by the Muhammadan Law, slavery was robbed of many 
of its harshest features, nor in Turkey at least does it seem to 
have been accompanied by such barbarities and atrocities as in the 
pirate states of Northern Africa. The slaves, like other citizens, 
had their rights, and it is even said that a slave might summon 
his master before the Qadi for ill usage, and that if he alleged that 
their tempers were so opposite, that it was impossible for them to 
agree, the Qadi could oblige his master to sell him. 3 The condi- 
tion of the Christian captives naturally varied with circumstances 
and their own capabilities of adapting themselves to a life of hard- 
ship ; the aged, the priests and monks, and those of noble birth 
suffered most, while the physician and the handicraftsman received 
more considerate treatment from their masters, as being servants 
that best repaid the money spent upon them. 4 The galley-slaves 

1 Turchicse Spurcitiae Suggillatio, fol. xxvii. (a). 

2 " Dum corpora exterius fovendo sub pietatis specie non occidit : interius 
fidem auferendo animas sua diabolica astutia occidere intendit. Jtluius rei 
testimonium innumerabilis multitudo fidelium esse potest. Quorum multi 
promptissimi essent pro fide Christi et suarum animarum salute in fide Christi 
mori : quos tamen conservando a morte corporali : et ductos in captivitatem per 
successum temporis suo infectos veneno fidem Chrinti turpiter negare facit." 
Turchicae Spurcitiae Suggillatio, fol. i. ; cf. fol. >i. (a). 

3 Menavino, p. 96. John Harris: Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca, 
vol. ii. p. 819. (London, 1764.) 

4 " Dieses muss man den Tiirken nachsagen, dass sie die Diener und Sclaven, 
durch deren Fleiss und Bemuhung sie sich einen Nutzen schaffen kbnnen, sehr 
wol und oft besser, als die Christen die ihrige, halten .... und wann ein 


naturally suffered most of all, indeed the kindest treatment could 
have but little relieved the hardships incident to such an. occupa- 
tion. 1 Further, the lot of the slaves who were state property was 
more pitiable than that of those who had been purchased by 
private individuals. 2 As a rule they were allowed the free exercise 
of their religion ; in the state-prisons at Constantinople, they had 
their own priests and chapels, and the clergy were allowed to 
administer the consolations of religion to the galley-slaves. 3 The 
number of the Christian slaves who embraced Islam was enor- 
mous ; some few cases have been recorded of their being 
threatened and ill-treated for the very purpose of inducing them 
to recant, but as a rule the masters seldom forced them to 
renounce their faith, 4 and put the greatest pressure upon them 
during the first years of their captivity, after which they let them 
alone to follow their own faith. 5 The majority of the converted 
slaves therefore changed their religion of their own free choice ; 
and when the Christian embassies were never sure from day to 
day that some of their fellow-countrymen that had accompanied 

Knecht in einer Kunst erfahren ist, gehet ihm nichts anders als die Freyheit ab, 
ausser welche er alles andere hat, was ein freyer Mensch sich nur wiinschen kan." 
G. C. von den Driesch, p. 132. 

1 Sir William Stirling- Max well says of these : " The poor wretches who tugged 
at the oar on board a Turkish ship of war lived a life neither more nor less 
miserable than the galley-slaves under the sign of the Cross. Hard work, hard 
fare, and hard knocks were the lot of both. Ashore, a Turkish or Algerine 
prison was, perhaps, more noisome in its filth and darkness than a prison at 
Naples or Barcelona ; but at sea, if there were degrees of misery, the Christian 
in Turkish chains probably had the advantage ; for in the Sultan's vessels the 
oar-gang was often the property of the captain, and the owner's natural tenderness 
for his own was sometimes supposed to interfere with the discharge of his duty." 
(Vol. i. pp. 102-3.) 

2 Gmelin, p. 16. 

* Id. p. 23. 

4 John Harris : Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca, vol. ii. p. 810. 

* " Die ersten Jahre sind fur solche ungliickliche Leute am beschwehrlichsten, 
absonderlich wenn sie noch jung, weil die Turken selbige entweder mit Schmei- 
cheln, oder, wann dieses nichts verfangen will, mit der Scharfe zu ihren Glauben 
zu bringen suchen ; wann aber dieser Sturm iiberwunden, wird man finden, dass 
die Gefangenschaft nirgend ertraglicher als bey den Turken seye." (G. C. von den 
Driesch, p. 132.) Moreover Georgieviz says that those who persevered in the 
Christian faith were set free after a certain fixed period. " Si in Christiana fide 
perseverayerint, statuitur certum tern pus serviendi, quo elapso liberi fiunt .... 
Verum illis qui nostram religionem abiurarunt, nee certum tempus est serviendi, 
nee ullum ius in patriam redeundi, spes libertatis solummodo pendet a domini 
arbitrio ' (p. 87). Similarly Menavino, p. 65. Cantacuzenos gives this period as 
seven years : " Grata e la compagnia che essi fanno a gli schiavi loro, percioche 
Maumetto gli ha fra l'altre cose comandato che egli non si possa tener in servitu 
uno schiavo piu che sette anni. et percio nessuno o raro e colui che a tal comanda- 
mento voglia contrafare" (p. 12S). 


them to Constantinople as domestic servants, might not turn 
Turk, 1 it can easily be understood that slaves who had lost all 
hope of return to their native country, and found little in their 
surroundings to strengthen and continue the teachings of their 
earlier years, would yield to the influences that beset them and 
would feel few restraints to hinder them from entering a new 
society and a new religion. An English traveller 2 of the 
seventeenth century has said of them : " Few ever return to 
their native country ; and fewer have the courage and constancy 
of retaining the Christian Faith, in which they were educated ; 
their education being but mean, and their knowledge but slight 
in the principles and grounds of it ; whereof some are frightened 
into Turcism by their impatience and too deep resentments of the 
hardships of the servitude ; others are enticed by the blandish- 
ments and flatteries of pleasure the Mahometan Law allows, and 
the allurements they have of making their condition better and 
more easy by a change of their Religion ; having no hope left 
of being redeemed, they renounce their Saviour and their 
Christianity, and soon forget their original country, and are no 
longer looked upon as strangers, but pass for natives." 

Much of course depended upon the individual character of the 
different Christian slaves themselves. The anonymous writer, so 
often quoted above, whose long captivity made him so competent 
to speak on their condition, divides them into three classes : 
first, those who passed their days in all simplicity, not caring to 
trouble themselves to learn anything about the religion of their 
masters ; for them it was enough to know that the Turks were 
infidels, and so, as far as their captive condition and their yoke of 
slavery allowed, they avoided having anything to do with them 
and their religious worship, fearing lest they should be led astray 
by their errors, and striving to observe the Christian faith as far 
as their knowledge and power went. The second class consisted 

1 "Fromme Christen, die nach der Tiirkei oder in andere muhamedanische 
Lander kamen, hatten Anlass genug zur Trauer liber die Haufigkeit des Abfalls 
ihrer Glaubensgenossen, und besonders die Schriften der Ordensgeistlichen sind 
voll von solchen Klagen. Bei den Sclaven konnte sich immer noch ein Gefiihl 
des Mitleids dem der Missbilligung beimischen, aber oft genug musste man die 
bittersten Erfahrungen auch an freien Landsleuten macheu. Die christlichcn 
Cicsandten waren keinen Tag sicher, ob ihnen nicht I. cute von ihrem Gefolge 
davoniliefen, und man that gut daran, den Tag nicht vor dem Abend zu loben." 
(Gmelin, p. 22.) Cf. Von den Driesch, p. 161. 

3 Thomas Smith, pp 144-5. 


of those whose curiosity led them to study and investigate the 
doings of the Turks : if, by the help of God, they had time enough 
to dive into their secrets, and understanding enough for the 
investigation of them and light of reason to find the interpretation 
thereof, they not only came out of the trial unscathed, but had 
their own faith strengthened. The third class includes those 
who, examining the Muslim religion without due caution, fail to 
dive into its depths and find the interpretation of it and so are 
deceived ; believing the errors of the Turks to be the truth, they 
lose their own faith and embrace the false religion of the 
Muslims, hereby not only compassing their own destruction, but 
setting a bad example to others : of such men the number is 
infinite. 1 

Conversion to Islam did not, as some writers have affirmed, 
release the slave from his captivity and make him a free man, 2 
for emancipation was solely at the discretion of the master ; who 
indeed often promised to set any slave free, without the payment 
of ransom, if only he would embrace Islam 3 ; but, on the other 
hand, would also freely emancipate the Christian slave, even 
though he had persevered in his religion, provided he had proved 
himself a faithful servant, and would make provision for his old 
age. 4 

There were many others who, like the Christian slaves 
separated from early surroundings and associations, found them- 
selves cut loose from old ties and thrown into the midst of a 
society animated by social and religious ideals of an entirely novel 
character. The crowds of Christian workmen that came wan- 
dering from the conquered countries in the fifteenth century to 
Adrianople and other Turkish cities in search of employment, 
were easily persuaded to settle there and adopt the faith of Islam. 5 
Similarly the Christian families that Muhammad II. transported 
from conquered provinces in Europe into Asia Minor, 6 may well 
have become merged into the mass of the Muslim population by 
almost imperceptible degrees, as was the case with the Armenians 
carried away into Persia by Shah 'Abbas I. (1587-1629), most of 

1 Turchicae spurcitiae suggillatio, fol. xxxv. (a). 

3 M. d'Ohsson, vol. iii. p. 133. Georgieviz, p. 87 (quoted above). Menavino, 

P- 95- 

3 Von den Driesch, p. 250. * Von den Driesch, p. 131-2. 

Turchicae Spurcitiae Suggillatio, fol. xi. 8 Hertzberg, p. 621. 


whom appear to have passed over to Islam in the second 
generation. 1 

In the following pages it is proposed to give a more detailed 
and particular account of the spread of Islam among the Christian 
populations of Albania, Servia, Bosnia and Crete, as the history 
of each of these countries after its conquest by the Ottomans 
presents some special features of interest in the history of the 
propagation of Islam. 

The Albanians, with the exception of some settlements in 
Greece, 2 inhabit the mountainous country that stretches along 
the east shore of the Adriatic from Montenegro to the Gulf of 
Arta. They form one of the oldest and purest-blooded races in 
Europe and belong to the Pelasgic branch of the Aryan stock. 
Their country was first conquered by Bayazid I. in the early part 
of the fifteenth century. For a short time it regained its inde- 
pendence under George Castriot, who is better known under his 
Muhammadan name of Scanderbeg or Sikandarbeg. When a 
boy he had been surrendered, together with his three brothers, 
by his father, the despot of Epirus, as a hostage for the payment 
of the tribute imposed by the Turks. He was circumcised and 
brought up as a Muslim under the especial favour of the Sultan, 
who made him commander of 5000 Turkish horse. On the death 
of his father, his brothers were put to death and the principality 
seized by the Sultan, who thought that he had bound Sikandar 
securely to himself, but thirsting for revenge, the young Albanian 
threw off his allegiance to Islam, and for twenty-three years 
maintained a vigorous and successful resistance to the Turkish 
armies. After -the death of Sikandarbeg in 1467, the Turks 
began again to take possession of Albania. Kroia, the capital 
of the Castriot dynasty, fell into their hands eleven years later, 
and from this date there appears to have been no organised 
resistance of the whole country, though revolts were frequent and 
the subjection of the country was never complete. Some of the 
sea-port towns held out much longer ; Durazzo was captured in 
1 501, while Antivari, the northernmost point of the sea-coast of 
Albania, did not surrender until 1 57 1 . The terms of capitulation 

1 " The old People dying, the young ones generally turn Mahumctans : so that 
now (1655) you can hardly meet with two Christian Armenians in all those fair 
Fiains, which their fathers were sent to manure." Tavcrnicr (1). p. 16. 

3 For a list of these, sec Fintay, vol. vi. pp. 28-9. 


were that the city should retain its old laws and magistrature, 
that there should be free and public exercise of the Christian 
religion, that the churches and chapels should remain uninjured 
and might be rebuilt if they fell into decay ; that the citizens 
should retain all their movable and immovable property and 
should not be burdened by any additional taxation. 

The Albanians under Turkish rule appear always to have 
maintained a kind of semi-autonomy, and the several tribes and 
clans remained as essentially independent as they were before the 
conquest. Though vassals of the Sultan, they would not brook 
the interference of Turkish officials in their internal administra- 
tion, and there is reason to believe that the Turkish Government 
has never been able to appoint or confirm any provincial 
governor who was not a native of Albania, and had not already 
established his influence by his arms, policy or connections. 1 
Their racial pride is intense, and to the present day the 
Albanian, if asked what he is, will call himself a Skipetar, 2 before 
saying whether he is a Christian or a Muhammadan a very 
remarkable instance of national feeling obliterating the fierce dis- 
tinction between these two religions that so forcibly obtrudes 
itself in the rest of the Ottoman empire. The Christian and 
Muhammadan Albanians alike, just as they speak the same 
language, so do they cherish the same traditions, and observe 
the same manners and customs ; and pride in their common 
nationality has been too strong a bond to allow differences of 
religious belief to split the nation into separate communities on 
this basis. 3 Side by side they serve in the irregular troops, that 
soon after the Turkish conquest became the main dependence of 
the government m all its internal administration, arid both 
classes have found the same ready employment in the service of 

1 Leake, p. 250. 

1 The name by which the Albanians always call themselves, lit. rock-dwellers. 

One of themselves, an Albanian Christian, speaking of the enmity existing 
between the Christians and Muhammadans of Bulgaria, says : " Aber fur AlbAnien 
liegen die Sachen ganz anders. Die Muselm'anner Albaniens sind Albanesen, 
wie die Christen ; sie sprechen dieselbe Sprache, sie haben dieselben Sitten, sie 
folgen denselben Gebrauchen, sic haben dieselben Traditionen ; sie und die 
Christen haben sich niemals gehasst, zwischen ihnen herrscht keine Jahrhunderte 
alte Feindschaft. Der Unterschied der Religion war niemals ein zu einer 
systematischen Trennung treibendes Motiv ; Muselm'anner und Christen haben 
stets, mit wenigen Ausnahmen. auf gleichem Fusse celebt, sich der gleichen 
Rechte erfreuend, dieselben Pflichten erfiillend." (Wassa Effendi : 
und die Albanesen, p. 59). (Berlin, 1879.) 


the local pashas, being accounted the bravest soldiers in the 
empire. Christian Albanians served in the Ottoman army in 
the Crimean War, 1 and though they have perhaps been a little 
more quiet and agricultural than their Muslim fellow-countrymen, 
still the difference has been small : they have always retained 
their arms and military habits, have always displayed the same 
fierce, proud, untamable spirit, and been animated with the same 
intense national feeling as their brethren who had embraced the 
creed of the Prophet. 2 

The consideration of these facts is of importance in tracing the 
spread of Islam in Albania, for it appears to have been propagated 
very gradually by the people of the country themselves, and not 
under pressure of foreign influences. The details that we possess 
of this movement are very meagre, as the history of Albania 
from the close of the fifteenth century to the rise of 'Ali Pasha 
three hundred years later, is almost a blank ; what knowledge we 
have, therefore, of the slow but continuous accession of converts 
to Islam during this period, is derived from the ecclesiastical 
chronicles of the various dioceses, 3 and the reports sent in from 
time to time to the Pope and the Society de Propaganda Fide. 4 
But it goes without saying that the very nature of these sources 
gives the information derived from them the stamp of imper- 
fection, especially in the matter of the motives assigned for 
conversion. For an ecclesiastic of those times to have even 
entertained the possibility of a conversion to Islam from genuine 
conviction much less have openly expressed such an opinion in 
writing to his superiors is well-nigh inconceivable. 

During the sixteenth century, Islam appears to have made but 
little progress, though the tide of conversion had already set in. 
In 1610 the Christian population exceeded the Muhammadan in 
the proportion of ten to one, 5 and as most of the villages were 
inhabited by Christians, with a very small admixture of Muham- 

1 Finlay, vol. v. p. 46. 

2 Clark, pp. 175-7. The Mirdites who are very fanatical Roman Catholics (in 
the diocese of Alessio) will not suffer a Muhammadan to live in their mountains 
and no member of their tribe has ever abjured his faith ; were any Mirdite to 
attempt to do so, he would certainly be put to death, unless he succeeded in 
making good his escape from Albania. Hecquard : Histoire de la Haute 
Albanie, p. 224. 

3 Published in Farlati's Illyricum Sacrum. 

4 Alessandro Comuleo, 1593 Bizzi, 1610. Marco Crisio, 1651. Fra Bona- 
ventura di S. Antonio, 1652. Zmaievieh, 1703. * Bizzi, fol. 60, b. 


madans, 1 the conversions appear to have been more frequent in 
the large towns. In Antivari, for example, while many Christians 
elected to emigrate into the neighbouring Christian countries, 
the majority of those who remained, both high-born and low, 
went over gradually to the Muslim faith, so that the Christian 
population grew less and less day by day. 2 As the number of 
accessions to Islam increased, churches were converted into 
mosques a measure which, though contrary to the terms of the 
capitulation, seems justified by the change in the religion of the 
people. 3 In 16 10 two collegiate churches only remained in the 
hands of the Latin Christians, but these appeared to have sufficed 
for the needs of the community 4 ; what this amounted to can 
only roughly be guessed from the words of Marco Bizzi, " There 
are about 600 houses inhabited indiscriminately by Muhammadans 
and Christians both Latin and Schismatics (i.e. of the Orthodox 
Greek Church) : the number of the Muhammadans is a little in 
excess of the Christians, and that of the Latins in excess of the 

In the accounts we have of the social relations between the 
Christians and the Muslims, and in the absence of any sharp line 
of demarcation between the two communities, we find some clue 
to the manner in which Muhammadan influences gradually 
gained converts from among the Christian population in pro- 
portion as the vigour and the spiritual life of the church declined. 

It had become very common for Christian parents to give their 
daughters in marriage to Muhammadans, and for Christian 
women to make no objection to such unions. 5 The male children 
born of these mixed marriages were brought up as Musalmans, 
but the girls were allowed to follow the religion of their mother. 6 

1 Bizzi, fol. 35, a. 2 Farlati, vol. vii. pp. 104, 107. 

3 It is also complained that the Archbishop's palace was appropriated by the 
Muhammadans, but it had been left unoccupied for eight years as Archbishop 
Ambrosius (flor. 1579-1598) had found it prudent to go into exile, having attacked 
Islam " with more fervour than caution, inveighing against Muhammad and 
damning his Satanic doctrines." (Farlati, vol. vii. p. 107.) 

4 Bizzi, fol. 9, where he says, "E comunicai quella mattina quasi tutta la 
Christianita latina." From a comparison with statistics given by Zmaievich 
(fol. 227) I would hazard the conjecture that the Latin Christian community at 
this time amounted to rather over a thousand souls. 

5 Bizzi, fol. 27 b ; 38 b. 

Veniero, fol. 34. This was also the custom in some villages of Albania, as 
late as the beginning of the present century, see W. M. Leake : Travels in 
Northern Greece, vol. i. p. 49. (London, 1835) : " In some villages 
Mahometans are married to Greek women, the sons are educated as Turks, and 
the daughters as Christians ; and pork and mutton are eaten at the same table." 


Such permission was rendered practically ineffective by the action 
of the Christian ecclesiastics who ordered the mothers to be 
excluded from the churches and from participation in the sacra- 
ments, 1 and consequently (though the parish priests often dis- 
regarded the commands of their superiors) many of these women 
embraced the faith of their husbands. But even then they kept 
up a superstitious observance of the rite of baptism, which was 
supposed to be a sovereign specific against leprosy, witches and 
wolves, 3 and Christian priests were found ready to pander to this 
superstition for any Muhammadan woman who wished to have 
her children baptised. 3 This good feeling between the members 
of the two religions * is similarly illustrated by the attendance of 
Muhammadans at the festivals of Christian saints ; e.g. Marco 
Bizzi says that on the feast-day of St. Elias (for whom the 
Albanians appear to have had a special devotion) there were as 
many Muhammadans present in the church as Christians. 5 Even 
to the present day we are told that Albanian Muhammadans 
revere the Virgin Mary and the Christian saints, and make 
pilgrimages to their shrines, while Christians on the other hand 
resort to the tombs of Muslim saints for the cure of ailments or 
in fulfilment of vows. 6 In the town of Calevacci, where there 
were sixty Christian and ten Muhammadan households, the 
followers of the Prophet contributed towards the support of the 
parish priest, as the majority of them had Christian wives. 7 
Under such circumstances it is hardly surprising to learn that 
many openly professed Islam, while satisfying their consciences 
by saying that they professed Christianity in their hearts. 8 
Marco Bizzi has three explanations to offer for such a lapse, the 
attraction of worldly advantage, the desire to avoid the payment 
of tribute, and the want of a sufficiently large number of intelli- 

1 Bizzi, fol. 38, b. Farlati, torn. vii. p. 158. 

2 Bizzi, fol. 10, b. Venicro, fol. 34. 

* Shortly after Marco Bizzi's arrival at Antivari a Muhammadan lady of high 
rank wished to have her'child baptised by the Archbishop himself, who Jells us 
that she complained bitterly to one of the leading Christians of the city that "io 
non mi fossi degnato di far a lei questo piacere, il qual quotidianamente vien fatto 
dai miei preti a richiesta di qualsivoglia plebeo " (fol. 10, b). 

4 For modem instances of the harmonious relations subsisting between the 
followers of the two faiths living together in the same village, see Hyacinthe 
Hecquard: Histoire et description de la Haute Albanie (pp. 153, 162, 200). 
(Paris. 1858.) 

J Bizzi, fol. 38, a. * Garnett, p. 267. 

7 Bizzi, fol. 36, b. Id. fol. 38, b. ; 37, a. 


gent clergy to supply the spiritual needs of the country. 1 Con- 
versions are frequently ascribed to the pressure of the burden of 
taxation imposed upon the Christians, and whole villages are said 
to have apostatised to avoid payment of the tribute. As no 
details are given, it is impossible to judge whether there was 
really sufficient ground for the complaint, or whether this was 
not the apology for their conduct alleged by the renegades in order 
to make some kind of excuse to their former co-religionists, or 
indeed an exaggeration on the part of ecclesiastics to whom a 
genuine conversion to Islam on rational grounds seemed an 
absolute impossibility. A century later (in 1703) the capitation- 
tax was six reals a head for each male and this (with the exception 
of a tax, termed sciataraccio, of three reals a year) was the only 
burden imposed on the Christians exclusively. 2 Men must 
have had very little attachment to their religion to abandon 
it merely in order to be quit of so slight a penalty, and with no 
other motive ; and the very existence of so large a body of 
Christians in Albania at the present time shows that the burden 
could not have been so heavy as to force them into apostacy 
without any other alternative. 

If only we had something more than vague general complaints 
against the " Turkish tyranny," we should be better able to 
determine how far this could have had such a preponderating 
influence as is ascribed to it : but the evidence alleged seems 
hardly to warrant such a conclusion. The vicious practice 
followed by the Ottoman Court of selling posts in the provinces 
to the highest bidder and the uncertainty of the tenure of 
such posts, often resulted in the occupants trying to amass 
as large a fortune as possible by extortions of every kind. 
But such burdens are said to have weighed as heavily on 
Muhammadans as Christians. 3 Though certainly an avaricious 
and unjust official may have found it easier to oppress the 
Christians than the Muslims, especially when the former were 
convicted of treasonable correspondence with the Venetians 
and other Christian states and were suspected of a wish to 

1 Bizzi, fol. 38, b ; 61, a ; 37, a ; 33, b. 

2 Zmaievich, fol. 5. The Venetian real in the eighteenth century was equal to 
a Turkish piastre. (Businello, p. 94.) 

3 Bizzi fol. 12-13. Zmaievich, fol. 5. 


However this may have been, there can be little doubt of the 
influence exerted by the zealous activity and vigorous life of 
Islam in the face of the apathetic and ignorant Christian clergy. 
If Islam in Albania had many such exponents as the Mulla, whose 
sincerity, courtesy and friendliness are praised by Marco Bizzi, 
with whom he used to discuss religious questions, it may well 
have made its way. 1 The majority of the Christian clergy appear 
to have been wholly unlettered : most of them, though they could 
read a little, did not know how to write, and were so ignorant of 
the duties of their sacred calling that they could not even repeat 
the formula of absolution by heart 2 ; though they had to recite 
the mass and other services in Latin, there were very few who 
could understand any of it, as they were ignorant of any language 
but their mother tongue, and they had only a vague, traditionary 
knowledge of the truths of their religion. 8 Marco Bizzi considered 
the inadequate episcopate of the country responsible for these 
evils, as for the small numbers of the clergy, and their ignorance 
of their sacred calling, and for the large number of Christians 
who grew old and even died without being confirmed and 
apostatised almost everywhere 4 ; and unless this were remedied 
he prophesied a rapid decay of Christianity in the country. 6 
Several priests were also accused of keeping concubines, and of 
drunkenness. 6 

It may here be observed that the Albanian priests were not the 
repositaries of the national aspirations and ideals, as were the 
clergy of the Orthodox Church in other provinces of the Turkish 
Empire, who in spite of their ignorance kept alive among their 
people that devotion to the Christian faith which formed the 
nucleus of the national life of the Greeks. 7 On the contrary, 
the Albanians cherished a national feeling that was quite apart 
from religious belief, and with regard to the Turks, con- 
sidered, in true feudal spirit, that as they were the masters of 

1 Bizzi, fol. IO*II. * Id. fol. 31, b. 8 Id. fol. 60, b. 

4 Id. fol. 33, b. " Qui deriva il puoco numero de Sacerdoti in quelle parti e 
la puoca loro intelligenza in quel mestiero ; il gran numero de Christiani, che 
invecchiano, et anco morono senza il sacramenlo della Confermatione etapostatano 
.lella fede quasi per tutto." 

5 " Se PAlbania non ricevera quakhe maggior ayiuto in meno di anni andera a 
male quasi tutta quella Christianita per il puoco numero dei Vescovi e dei 
Sacerdoti di qualche intelligenza." Id. fol. 61, a. 

6 Id. fol. 36, a. Id. fol. 64, b. 

7 Kinlay, vol. v. pp. 153-4. Clark, p. 290. 


the country they ought to be obeyed whatever commands they 
gave. 1 

There is a curious story of conversion which is said to have 
taken place owing to a want of amicable relations between a 
Christian priest and his people, as follows : Many years since, 
when all the country was Christian, there stood in the city of 
Scutari a beautiful image of the Virgin Mary, to whose shrine 
thousands flocked every year from all parts of the country to 
offer their gifts, perform their devotions, and be healed of their 

" For some cause or other, however, it fell out that there was 
dissension between the priest and the people, and one day the 
latter came to the church in great crowds, declaring that unless 
the priest yielded to them they would then and there abjure the 
faith of Christ and embrace in its stead that of Muhammad. The 
priest, whether right or wrong, still remaining firm, his congrega- 
tion tore the rosaries and crosses from their necks, trampled them 
under their feet, and, going to the nearest mosque, were received 
by the Mollah into the fold of the True Believers." 2 

Through the negligence and apathy of the Christian clergy 
many abuses and irregularities had been allowed to creep into the 
Christian society ; in one of which, namely the practice of con- 
tracting marriages without the sanction of the Church or any 
religious ceremony, we find an approximation to the Muhamma- 
dan law, which makes marriage a civil contract. In order to 
remedy this evil, the husband and wife were to be excluded from 
the church, until they had conformed to the ecclesiastical law and 
gone through the service in the regular manner. 3 

In the course of the seventeenth century, the social conditions 
and other factors indicated above, bore fruit abundantly, and the 
numbers of the Christian population began rapidly to decline. 
In 1624 there were only two thousand Catholics in the whole 
diocese of Antivari, and in the city itself only one church ; at the 
close of the century, even this church was no longer used for 
Christian worship, as there were only two families of Roman 

1 " E quei miseri hanno fermata la conscientia in creder di non peccar per 
simil coniuntioni (i.e. the giving of Christian girls in marriage to Muhammadans) 
per esser i turchi signori del paese, e che per6 non si possa, ne devea far altro 
che obbedirli quando comandano qualsivoglia cosa." (Bizzi, fol. 38, b.) 

3 Garnett, p. 268. 3 Bizzi, fol. 38, b ; 63, a. 


Catholics left. 1 In the whole country generally, the majority ot 
the Christian community in 1651 was composed of women, as the 
male population had apostatised in such large numbers to Islam. 2 
Matters were still worse at the close of the century, the Catholics 
being then fewer in number than the Muhammadans, the propor- 
tions being about 1 to i|, 3 whereas less than a hundred years before, 
they had outnumbered the Muhammadans in the proportion of 
10 to 1 ; * in the Archbishopric of Durazzo the Christian population 
had decreased by about half in twenty years, 5 in another town (in 
the diocese of Kroia) the entire population passed from Christianity 
to Islam in the course of thirty years. 6 In spite of the frequent 
protests and regulations made by their ecclesiastical superiors, the 
parish priests continued to countenance the open profession of 
Islam along with a secret adherence to Christianity, on the part 
of many male members of their flocks, by administering to them 
the Blessed Sacrament ; the result of which was that the children 
of such persons, being brought up as Muhammadans, were for 
ever lost to the Christian church. 7 Similarly, Christian parents 
still gave their daughters in marriage to Muhammadans, the 
parish priests countenancing such unions by administering the 
sacrament to such women, 8 in spite of the fulminations of the 
higher clergy against such indulgence. 9 Such action on the part 
of the lower clergy can hardly however be taken as indicating 
any great zeal on behalf of the spiritual welfare of their flocks, in 
the face of the accusations brought against them ; the majority of 
them are accused of being scandalous livers, who very seldom 
went to confession and held drunken revels in their parsonages 
on festival days ; they sold the property of the Church, frequently 
absented themselves from their parishes, and when censured, 
succeeded in getting off by putting themselves under the protec- 
tion of the Turks. 10 The Reformed Franciscans and the Obser- 
vants who had been sent to minister to the spiritual wants of the 
people did nothing but quarrel and go to law with one another ; 
much to the scandal of the laity and the neglect of the mission. 11 

I Farlati. torn. vii. pp. 124, 14 1. - Marco Crisio, p. 202. 
1 Zmaievich, fol. 227. 4 Bizzi, fol. 60, b. 

3 Zmaievich, fol. 137. 6 Zmaievich, fol. 157. 

7 Zmaievich, fol. 1 1, 159. 8 Zmaievich, fol. 13. 

Bizzi, fol. 38, b. Farlati, vol. vii. p. 158 '" Zmaievich, fol. 13-14. 

II Informatione circa la missione d'Albania, fol. 196. 



In the middle of the seventeenth century five out of the twelve 
Albanian sees were vacant ; the diocese of Pullati had not been 
visited by a bishop for thirty years, and there were only two 
priests to 6348 souls. 1 In some parishes in the interior of the 
country, there had been no priests for more than forty years ; and 
this was in no way due to the oppression of the u Turkish tyrant," 
for when at last four Franciscan missionaries were sent, they 
reported that they could go through the country and exercise 
their sacred office without any hindrance whatever. 2 The bishop 
of Sappa, to the great prejudice of his diocese, had been long 
resident in Venice, where he is said to have lived a vicious life, 
and had appointed as his vicar an ignorant priest who was a 
notorious evil-liver : this man had 12,400 souls under his charge, 
and, says the ecclesiastical visitor, " through the absence of the 
bishop there is danger of his losing his own soul and compassing 
the destruction of the souls under him and of the property of 
the Church." 8 The bishop of Scutari was looked upon as a 
tyrant by his clergy and people, and only succeeded in keeping 
his post through the aid of the Turks 4 ; and Zmaievich complains of 
the bishops generally that they burdened the parishes in their 
diocese with forced contributions. 5 It appears that Christian 
ecclesiastics were authorised by the Sultan to levy contributions 
on their flocks. Thus the Archbishop of Antivari (1 599-1607) 
was allowed to u exact and receive " two aspers from each 
Christian family, twelve for every first marriage (and double the 
amount for a second, and quadruple for a third marriage), and 
one gold piece from each parish annually, and it seems to have 
been possible to obtain the assistance of the Turkish authorities 
in levying these contributions. 6 

Throughout the whole of Albania there was not a single 
Christian school, 7 and the priests were profoundly ignorant : some 
were sent to study in Italy, but Marco Crisio condemns this prac- 
tice, as such priests were in danger of finding life in Italy so 
pleasant that they refused to return to their native country. 
With a priesthood so ignorant and so careless of their sacred duties, 
it is not surprising to learn that the common people had no know- 

1 Crisio, fol. 204. 

3 Marco Crisio, fol. 202, 205. 

* Zmaievich, fol. 13. 

7 Marco Crisio, fol. 205. 

2 Fra Bonaventura, fol. 201. 
4 Id. fol. 205. 

6 Farlati. Tom. vii. p. 109. 
Bizzi, fol. 19, b. 



ledge even of the rudiments of their faith, and that numerous 
abuses and corruptions sprang up among them, which " wrought 
the utmost desolation to this vineyard of the Lord." 1 Many 
Christians lived in open concubinage for years, still however 
being admitted to the sacraments, 2 while others had a plurality of 
wives. 3 In this latter practice we notice an assimilation between 
the habits of the two communities the Christian and the Muslim 
which is further illustrated by the admission of Muhammadans 
as sponsors at the baptism of Christian children, while the old 
superstitious custom of baptising Muhammadan children was still 
sanctioned by the priests. 4 

Such being the state of the Christian Church in Albania in 
the latter half of the seventeenth century, some very trifling 
incentive would have been enough to bring about a widespread 
apostacy; and the punishment inflicted on the rebellious Catholics 
in the latter half of the century was a determining factor more 
than sufficient to consummate the tendencies that had been 
drawing them towards Islam and to cause large numbers of them 
to fall away from the Christian Church. The rebellious move- 
ment referred to seems to have been instigated by George, the 
thirty-ninth Archbishop of Antivari (1635-1644), who through 
the bishops of Durazzo, Scodra and Alessio tried to induce the 
leaders of the Christian community to conspire against the Turkish 
rule and hand over the country to the neighbouring Christian 
power, the Republic of Venice. As in his time Venice was at 
peace with the Turks a fitting opportunity for the hatching of 
this plot did not occur, but in 1645 war broke out between 
Turkey and the Republic, and the Venetians made an unsuccess- 
ful attempt to capture the city of Antivari, which before the 
Turkish conquest had been in their possession for more than 
three centuries (1262-1571). The Albanian Catholics who had 
sided with the enemy and secretly given them assistance were 
severely punished and deprived of their privileges, while the 
Greek Christians (who had everything to fear in the event of the 
restoration of the Venetian rule and had remained faithful to the 
Turkish government) were liberally rewarded and were lauded 
as the saviours of their country. Many of the Catholics either 

1 Zmaievich, fol. II. 2 Zmaievich, fol. 32. 

1 Crisio, fol. 204. 4 Zmaievich, fol. II. Farlati, vol. vii. p. 151. 


became Muhammadans or joined the Greek Church. The latter 
fact is very significant as showing that there was no persecution 
of the Christians as such, nor any attempt to force the acceptance 
of Islam upon them. The Catholics who became Muhammadans, 
did so to avoid the odium of their position after the failure of 
their plot, and could have gained the same end and have at the 
same time retained their Christian faith by joining the Greek 
Church, which was not only officially recognised by the Turkish 
government but in high favour in Antivari at this time : so that 
those who neglected to do so, could have had very little attach- 
ment to the Christian religion. The same remark holds good of 
the numerous conversions to Islam in the succeeding years : 
Zmaievich attributes them in some cases to the desire to avoid 
the payment of tribute, but, from what has been said above, it is 
very unlikely that this was the sole determining motive. 

In 1649 a still more widespread insurrection broke out, an 
Archbishop of Antivari, Joseph Maria Bonaldo (1646-1654), being 
again the main instigator of the movement; and the leading 
citizens of Antivari, Scodra and other towns conspired to throw 
open their gates to the army of the Venetian Republic. But this 
plot also failed and the insurrection was forcibly crushed by the 
Turkish troops, aided by the dissensions that arose among the 
Christians themselves. Many Albanians whose influence was 
feared were transported from their own country into the interior 
of the Turkish dominions ; a body of 3000 men crossed the border 
into Venetian territory ; those who remained were overawed by 
the erection of fortresses and the marching of troops through the 
disaffected districts, while heavy fines were imposed upon the 
malcontents. 1 

Unfortunately the Christian writers who complain of the " un- 
just tributes and vexations " with which the Turks oppressed the 
Albanians, so that they apostatised to Islam, 2 make use only of 
general expressions, and give us no details to enable us to judge 
whether or not such complaints were justified by the facts. 
Zmaievich prefaces his account of the apostacy of two thousand 
persons with an enumeration of the taxes and other burdens the 
Christians had to bear, but all these, he says, were common also 

1 Farlati, vol. vii. pp. 126-132. Zmaievich, fol. 4-5, fol. 20. 
3 "Plerique, ut se iniquis tributis et vexationibus eximerent, paullatim a 
Christiana religione deficere coeperunt." (Farlati. Tom. vii. p. 131.) 

M 2 


to the Muhammadans, with the exception of the capitation-tax of 
six reals a year for each male, and another tax, termed sciataraccio, 
of three reals a year. 1 He concludes with the words : u The 
nation, wounded by these taxes in its weakest part, namely, 
worldly interest, to the consideration of which it has a singular 
leaning either by nature or by necessity, has given just cause for 
lamenting the deplorable loss of about 2000 souls who apostatised 
from the true faith so as not to be subject to the tribute." 3 There 
is nothing in his report to show that the taxes the Catholics had 
to pay, constituted so intolerable a burden as to force them to 
renounce their creed, and though he attributes many conversions 
to Islam to the desire of escaping the tribute, he says expressly 
that these apostacies from the Christian faith are mainly to be 
ascribed to the extreme ignorance of the clergy, 3 in great measure 
also to their practice of admitting to the sacraments those who 
openly professed Islam while in secret adhering to the Christian 
faith 4 : in another place he says, speaking of the clergy who were 
not fit to be parish priests and their practice of administering the 
sacraments to apostates and secret Christians, " these are precisely 
the two causes from which have come all the losses that the 
Christian Church has sustained in Albania." 5 There is very little 
doubt but that the widespread apostacy at this time was the 
result of a long series of influences similar to those mentioned in 
the preceding pages, and that the deliverance from the payment 
of the tribute was the last link in the chain. 

What active efforts Muhammadans themselves were making to 
gain over the Christians to Islam, we can hardly expect to learn 
from the report of an ecclesiastical visitor. But we find mention 
of a district, the inhabitants of which, from their intercourse with 
the Turks, had " contracted the vices of these infidels," and one of 
the chief causes of their falling away from the Christian faith was 
their contracting marriages with Turkish women. 6 There were 
no doubt strong Muhammadan influences at work here, as also in 
the two parishes of Biscascia and Basia, whose joint population 
of nearly a thousand souls was " exposed to the obvious risk of 
apostatising through lack of any pastor," and were " much tempted 

1 Zmaievich, fol. 5. 3 Id. fol. 5. 

Id. fol. 15, 197. * Id. fol. 11. 

Id. fol. 137. 6 Id. fol. 149- 


in their faith, and needed to be strengthened in it by wise and 
zealous pastors." l 

Zmaievich speaks of one of the old noble Christian families in 
the neighbourhood of Antivari which was represented at that 
time by two brothers ; the elder of these had been M wheedled " 
by the prominent Muhammadans of the place, who were closely 
related to him, into denying his faith ; the younger wished to 
study for the priesthood, in which office " he would be of much 
assistance to the Christian church through the high esteem in 
which the Turks held his family ; which though poor was 
universally respected." 2 This indeed is another indication of 
the fact that the Muhammadans did not ill-treat the Christians, 
merely as such, but only when they showed themselves to be 
politically disaffected. Zmaievich, who was himself an Albanian, 
and took up his residence in his diocese instead of in Venetian 
territory, as many of the Archbishops of Antivari seem to have 
done, 3 was received with u extraordinary honours " and with 
"marvellous courtesy," not only by the Turkish officials generally, 
but also by the Supreme Pasha of Albania himself, who gave him 
the place of honour in his Divan, always accompanying him to 
the door on his departure and receiving him there on his arrival. 4 
This " barbarian " who " showed himself more like a generous- 
hearted Christian than a Turk," gave more substantial marks of 
good feeling towards the Christians by remitting at the Arch- 
bishop's request the tribute due for the ensuing year from four 
separate towns. 5 If any of the Christian clergy were roughly 
treated by the Turks, it seems generally to have been due to the 
suspicion of treasonable correspondence with the enemies of the 
Turks ; ecclesiastical visits to Italy seem also to have excited 
and in many cases, justly, such suspicions. Otherwise the 
Christian clergy seem to have had no reason to complain of 
the treatment they received from the Muslims ; Zmaievich even 
speaks of one parish priest being " much beloved by the principal 
Turks," 6 and doubtless there were parallels in Albania to the 
case of a priest in the diocese of Trebinje in Herzegovina, who in 
the early part of the eighteenth century was suspected, on 
account of his familiar intercourse with Muhammadans, of having 

1 Zmaievich, fol. 143-4. 2 Id fol 22 - 

3 Farlati. Tom. vii. p. 141. 4 Zmaievich, fol. 7, 17. 

5 Id. fol. 9. Id. fol. 141. 


formed an intention to embrace Islam, and was accordingly sent 
by his bishop to Rome under safe custody. 1 

The kingdom of Servia first paid tribute to the Ottomans in 
1375 and lost its independence after the disastrous defeat of 
Kossovo (1389), where both the king of Servia and the Turkish 
sultan were left dead upon the field. The successors of the two 
sovereigns entered into a friendly compact, the young Servian 
prince, Stephen, acknowledged the suzerainty of Turkey, gave 
his sister in marriage to the new sultan, Bayazld, and formed 
with him a league of brotherhood. At the battle of Nikopolis 
(1394), which gave to the Turks assured possession of the whole 
Balkan peninsula, except the district surrounding Constantinople, 
the Servian contingent turned the wavering fortune of the battle 
and gave the victory to the Turks. On the field of Angora (1402), 
when the Turkish power was annihilated and Bayazld himself 
taken prisoner by Timur, Stephen was present with his Servian 
troops and fought bravely for his brother-in-law, and instead of 
taking this opportunity of securing his independence, remained 
faithful to his engagement, and stood by the sons of Bayazld 
until they recovered their father's throne. Under the successor 
of Stephen, George Brankovitch, Servia enjoyed a semi- 
independence, but when in 1438 he raised the standard of 
revolt, his country was again overrun by the Turks. Then for a 
time Servia had to acknowledge the suzerainty of Hungary, but 
the defeat of John Hunyady at Varna in 1444 brought her once 
more under tribute and in 1459 she finally became a Turkish 

When given the choice between the Roman Catholic rule of 
Hungary and the Muslim rule of the Turks, the devotion of the 
Servians to the Greek Church led them to prefer the tolerance of 
the Muhammadans to the uncompromising proselytising spirit of 
the Latins. An old legend thus represents their feelings at this 
time : The Turks and the Hungarians were at war ; George 
Brankovitch sought out John Hunyady and asked him, "If you 
are victorious, what will you do ? " " Establish the Roman 
Catholic faith," was the answer. Then he sought out the sultan 
and asked him, " If you come out victorious, what will you do 
with our religion ? " "By the side of every mosque shall stand a 
church, and every man shall be free to pray in whichever he 
1 Farlati, vol. vi. p. 317. 

SERVIA. 167 

chooses." l The treachery of some Servian priests forced the 
garrison of Belgrade to capitulate to the Turks 2 ; similarly the 
Servians of Semendria, on the Danube, welcomed the Turkish 
troops that in 1600 delivered them from the rule of their 
Catholic neighbours. 3 

The spread of Islam among the Servians began immediately 
after the battle of Kossovo, when a large part of the old feudal 
nobility, such as still remained alive and did not take refuge in 
neighbouring Christian countries, went over voluntarily to the 
faith of the Prophet, in order to keep their old privileges 
undisturbed. 4 In these converted nobles the sultans found the 
most zealous propagandists of the new faith. 5 But the majority 
of the Servian people clung firmly to their old religion through 
all their troubles and sufferings, and only in Stara Serbia or Old 
Servia, 6 which now forms the North-eastern portion of modern 
Albania, has there been any very considerable number of con- 
versions. Even here the spread of Muhammadanism proceeded 
very slowly until the seventeenth century, when the Austrians 
induced the Servians to rise in revolt and, after the ill-success of 
this rising, the then Patriarch, Arsenius III. Tsernoievitch, in 
1690 emigrated with 40,000 Servian families across the border into 
Hungary j another exodus in 1739 of 15,000 families under the 
leadership of Arsenius IV. Jovanovitch, well nigh denuded this part 
of the country of its original Servian population. 7 

Albanian colonists from the south pressed into the country 
vacated by the fugitives : these Albanians at the time of their 
arrival were Roman Catholics for the most part, but after they 
settled in Old Servia they gradually adopted Islam and at the 
present time the remnant of Roman Catholic Albanians is but small, 
though from time to time it is recruited by fresh arrivals from the 
mountains : the new-comers however usually follow the example 
of their predecessors, and after a while become Muhammadans. 8 

After this Albanian immigration, Islam began to spread more 

1 Enrique Dupuy de L6me : Los Eslavos y Turquia. (Madrid, 1877), pp. 17-18. 

3 De la Jonquiere, p 215. 3 Id. p. 290. 

4 Kanitz, p. 37. 5 Id. pp. 37-8. 

6 A map of this country is given by Mackenzie and Irby (p. 243) : it contains 
Prizren, the old Servian capital ; Ipek, the seat of the Servian Patriarch, and the 
battle-field of Kossovo. 

7 Kanitz, p. 37. 

8 Mackenzie and Irby, pp. 250-1. 


rapidly among the remnant of the Servian population. The 
Servian clergy were very ignorant and unlettered, they could only 
manage with difficulty to read their service-books and hardly any 
had learned to write ; they neither preached to the people nor 
taught them the catechism, consequently in whole villages scarcely 
a man could be found who knew the Lord's Prayer or how many 
commandments there were ; even the priests themselves were 
quite as ignorant. 1 After the insurrection of 1689, the Patriarch 
of Ipek, the ecclesiastical capital of Servia, was appointed by the 
Porte, but in 1737, as the result of another rebellion, the Servian 
Patriarchate was entirely suppressed and the Servian Church 
made dependent upon the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople. 
The churches were filled with Greek bishops, who made common 
cause with the Turkish Beys and Pashas in bleeding the un- 
fortunate Christians : their national language was proscribed and 
the Old Slavonic service-books, etc., were collected and sent off to 
Constantinople. 2 With such a clergy it is not surprising that the 
Christian faith should decline : e.g. in the commune of Gora (in 
the district of Prizren), which had begun to become Muham- 
madanised soon after the great exodus of 1690, the Servians that still 
clung to the Christian faith, appealed again and again to the 
Greek bishop of Prizren to send them priests, at least occasionally, 
but all in vain ; their children remained unbaptised, weddings and 
burials were conducted without the blessing of the church, and 
the consecrated buildings fell into decay. 3 In the neighbouring 
district of Opolje, similarly, the present Muslim population of 9 500 
souls is probably for the most part descended from the original Slav 
inhabitants of the place. 4 At the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, Bizzi found in the city of Jagnevo, 120 Roman Catholic 
households, 200 Greek and 1 80 Muhammadan 5 ; less than a hundred 
years later, every house in the city was looked upon as Muham- 
madan, as the head of each family professed this faith and the 
women only, with some of the children, were Christian. 6 About the 
middle of the eighteenth century, the village of Ljurs was entirely 
Catholic ; in 1863 there were 90 Muslim and 23 Christian families, 
but at the present day this village, together with the surrounding 

1 Farlati, vol. vii. pp. 127-8. 

3 Mackenzie and Irby, pp. 374-5. 4 Id. p. 38. 

Kanitz, p. 39. * Bizzi, fol. 48, b. 

s Id. pp. 39-40. " Zmaievich. fol. 182. 


villages, has wholly given up Christianity. 1 Until recently some 
lingering survivals of their old Christian faith, such as the burning 
of the Yule-log at Christmas, etc., were still to be met with in 
certain villages, but such customs are now fast dying out. 

After the battle of Kossovo and the downfall of the Servian 
Empire, the wild highlands of Montenegro afforded a refuge to 
those Servians who would not submit to the Turks but were 
determined to maintain their independence. It is not the place 
here to relate the history of the heroic struggles of this brave 
people against overwhelming odds, how through centuries of 
continual warfare, under the rule of their prince-bishops, 2 they 
have kept alive a free Christian state when all their brethren of 
the same race had been compelled to submit to Muhammadan 
rule. While the very basis of their separate existence as a nation 
was their firm adherence to the Christian faith it could hardly have 
been expected that Islam would have made its way among them, 
but in the seventeenth century many Montenegrins in the frontier 
districts became Muhammadans and took service with the neigh- 
bouring Pashas. But in 1703, Daniel Petrovitch, the then 
reigning bishop, called the tribes together and told them that the 
only hope for their country and their faith lay in the destruction 
of the Muhammadans living among them. Accordingly, on 
Christmas Eve, all the converted Montenegrins who would not 
forswear Islam and embrace Christianity were massacred in cold 
blood. 3 

To pass now to Bosnia : in this country the religious and 
social conditions of the people, before the Turkish conquest, 
merit especial attention. The majority of the population belonged 
to a heretical Christian sect, called Bogomiles, who from the 
thirteenth century had been exposed to the persecution of the 
Roman Catholics and against whom Popes had on several occasions 
preached a Crusade. 4 In 1325, Pope John XXII. wrote thus to 
the king of Bosnia : " To our beloved son and nobleman, Stephen, 
Prince of Bosnia, knowing that thou art a faithful son of the 
church, we therefore charge thee to exterminate the heretics in 

1 Kanitz, p. 38. 

2 Montenegro was ruled by bishops from 15 16 to 1852. 

3 E. L. Clark, pp. 362-3. 

4 Honorius III. in 1221, Gregory IX. in 1238, Innocent IV. in 1246, Benedict 
XII. in 1337. The Inquisition was established in 1291. 


thy dominions, and to render aid and assistance to Fabian, our 
Inquisitor, forasmuch as a large multitude of heretics from many 
and divers parts collected hath flowed together into the princi- 
pality of Bosnia, trusting there to sow their obscene errors and 
dwell there in safety. These men, imbued with the cunning of 
the Old Fiend, and armed with the venom of their falseness, 
corrupt the minds of Catholics by outward show of simplicity and 
the sham assumption of the name of Christians ; their speech 
crawleth like a crab, and they creep in with humility, but in 
secret they kill, and are wolves in sheep's clothing, covering their 
bestial fury as a means to deceive the simple sheep of Christ." 
In the fifteenth century, the sufferings of the Bogomiles became so 
intolerable that they appealed to the Turks to deliver them from 
their unhappy condition, for the king of Bosnia and the priests 
were pushing the persecution of the Bogomiles to an extreme 
which perhaps it had never reached before ; as many as forty 
thousand of them fled from Bosnia and took refuge in neigh- 
bouring countries ; others who did not succeed in making their 
escape, were sent in chains to Rome. But even these violent 
measures did little to diminish the strength of the Bogomiles in 
Bosnia, as in 1462 we are told that heresy was as powerful as ever 
in this country. The following year, when Bosnia was invaded 
by Muhammad II., the Catholic king found himself deserted by 
his subjects : the keys of the principal fortress, the royal city of 
Bobovatz, were handed over to the Turks by the Bogomile 
governor ; the other fortresses and towns hastened to follow this 
example and within a week seventy cities passed into the hands 
of the Sultan, and Muhammad II. added Bosnia to the number of 
his numerous conquests. 1 

From this time forth we hear but little of the Bogomiles ; they 
seem to have willingly embraced Islam in large numbers im- 
mediately after the Turkish conquest, and the rest seem to have 
gradually followed later, while the Bosnian Roman Catholics 
emigrated into the neighbouring territories of Hungary and 
Austria. It has been supposed by some 2 that a large proportion 
of the Bogomiles, at least in the earlier period of the conquest, 
embraced Islam with the intention of returning to their faith 
when a favourable opportunity presented itself; as, being jpn- 

1 Asboth, pp. 42-95. Evans, pp. xxxvi-xlii. 

2 Asboth, pp. 96-7. 

BOSNIA. 171 

stantly persecuted, they may have learnt to deny their faith for 
the time being ; but that, when this favourable opportunity never 
arrived, this intention must have gradually been lost sight of and 
at length have been entirely forgotten by their descendants. Such 
a supposition is however a pure conjecture and has no direct 
evidence to support it. We may rather find the reason for the 
willingness of the Bogomiles to allow themselves to be merged in 
the general mass of the Musalman believers, in the numerous 
points of likeness between their peculiar beliefs and the tenets of 
Islam. They rejected the worship of the Virgin Mary, the in- 
stitution of Baptism and every form of priesthood. 1 They abomi- 
nated the cross as a religious symbol, and considered it idolatry 
to bow down before religious pictures and the images and relics 
of the saints. Their houses of prayer were very simple and 
unadorned, in contrast to the gaudily decorated Roman Catholic 
churches, and they shared the Muhammadan dislike of bells, 
which they styled " the devil's trumpets." They believed that 
Christ was not himself crucified but that some phantom was 
substituted in his place : in this respect agreeing partially with 
the teaching of the Quran. 2 Their condemnation of wine and the 
general austerity of their mode of life and the stern severity of their 
outward demeanour would serve as further links to bind them to 
Islam, 3 for it was said of them : " You will see heretics quiet and 
peaceful as lambs without, silent, and wan with hypocritical 
fasting, who do not speak much nor laugh loud, who let their 
beard grow, and leave their person incompt." 4 They prayed five 
times a day and five times a night, repeating the Lord's Prayer 
with frequent kneelings, 5 and would thus find it very little change 
to join in the services of the mosque. I have brought together 
here the many points of likeness to the teachings of Islam, which 

1 " They revile the ceremonies of the church and all church dignitaries, and 
they call orthodox priests blind Pharisees, and bay at them as dogs at horses. As 
to the Lord's Supper, they assert that it is not kept according to God's command- 
ment, and that it is not the body of God, but ordinary bread." Kosmas, quoted 
by Evans, pp. xxx-xxxi. 

2 Surah iv. 1 56. 

3 Cf. the admiration of the Turks for Charles XII. of Sweden. " Son opini- 
atrete a s'abstenir du vin, et sa regularite a assister deux fois par jour aux prieres 
publiques, leur fesaient dire : C'est un vrai musulman." ((Euvres de Voltaire. 
Tome 23, p. 200.) (Paris, 1785.) 

4 Kosmas, quoted by Evans, p. xxxi. 

1 Asboth, p. 36. Wetzer und Welte, vol. ii. p. 975. 


we find in this Bogomilian heresy, but there were, of course, some 
doctrines of a distinctly Christian character which an orthodox 
Muslim could not hold ; still, with so much in common, it can 
easily be understood how the Bogomiles may gradually have been 
persuaded to give up those doctrines that were repugnant to the 
Muslim faith. Their Manichaean dualism was equally irre- 
concilable with Muslim theology, but Islam has always shown 
itself tolerant of such theological speculations provided that they 
did not issue in a schism and that a general assent and consent 
were given to the main principles of its theory and practice. 

The Turks, as was their usual custom, offered every advantage 
to induce the Bosnians to accept their creed. All who embraced 
Islam were allowed to retain their lands and possessions, and it is 
probable that many rightful heirs of ancient houses who had been 
dispossessed for heretical opinions by the Catholic faction among 
the nobility, now embraced the opportunity of regaining their old 
position by submission to the dominant creed. 

The latest territorial acquisition of the Ottoman conquests was 
the island of Crete, which in 1669 was wrested from the hands of 
the Venetian Republic when the city of Candia was taken after 
a long and desperate siege of nearly three years, which closed a 
struggle of twenty-five years between these rival powers for the 
possession of the island. 

This was not the first time that Crete had come under Muslim 
rule. Early in the ninth century the island was suddenly seized 
by a band of Saracen adventurers from Spain, and it remained in 
their power for nearly a century and a half (a. d. 825-961 ). 1 During 
this period well-nigh the whole population of the island had 
become Muslim, and the churches had either fallen into ruins or 
been turned into mosques ; but when the authority of the Byzan- 
tine empire was once re-established here, the people were con- 
verted again to their ancient faith through the skilful preaching 
of an Armenian monk, and the Christian religion became the 
only one professed on the island. 2 In the beginning of the 
thirteenth century, the Venetians purchased the island from 
Boniface, Duke of Montserrat, to whose lot it had fallen after 
the partition of the Byzantine empire, and they ruled it with a 
heavy hand, apparently looking upon it only in the light of a 

1 Amari, vol. i. p. 163 ; vol. ii. p. 260. 
a Cornaro, vol. i. pp. 205-8. 

CRETE. 173 

purchase that was to be exploited for the benefit of the home 
government and its colonists. Their administration was so 
oppressive and tyrannical as to excite several revolts, which were 
crushed with pitiless severity ; on one of these occasions whole 
cantons in the provinces of Sfakia and Lassiti were depopulated, 
and it was forbidden under pain of death to sow any corn there, 
so that these districts remained barren and uncultivated for nearly 
a century. 1 The terrific cruelty with which the Venetian senate 
suppressed the last of these attempts at the beginning of the 
sixteenth century added a crowning horror to the miserable 
condition of the unhappy Cretans. How terrible was their lot at 
this time we learn from the reports of the commissioners sent by 
the Venetian senate in the latter part of the same century, in 
order to inquire into the condition of the islanders. The peasants 
were said to be crushed down by the cruellest oppression and 
tyranny on the part of the Venetian nobles, their feudal lords, 
being reduced to a worse condition than that of slaves, so that 
they never dared even to complain of any injustice. Each 
peasant had to do twelve days' forced labour for his feudal lord 
every year without payment , and could then be compelled to go 
on working for as long as his lord required his services at the 
nominal rate of a penny a day ; his vineyards were mulcted in a 
full third of their produce, but fraud and force combined generally 
succeeded in appropriating as much as two-thirds ; his oxen and 
mules could be seized for the service of the lord, who had a 
thousand other devices for squeezing the unfortunate peasant. 2 
The protests of these commissioners proved ineffectual to induce 
the Venetian senate to alleviate the unhappy condition of the 
Cretans and put a stop to the cruelty and tyranny of the nobles : 
it preferred to listen to the advice of a certain Fra Paolo Sarpi 
who in 1 61 5 thus addressed the Republic on the subject of its 
Greek colonies : "If the gentlemen of these Colonies do tyrannize 
over the villages of their dominion, the best way is not to seem 
to see it, that there may be no kindness between them and their 
subjects." 8 

It is not surprising to learn from the same sources that the 
Cretans longed for a change of rulers, and that " they would not 

Perrot, p. 151. s Pashley, vol. i. p. 30 j vol. ii. pp. 284, 391*2. 

* Pashley, vol. ii. p. 298. 


much stick at submitting to the Turk, having the example of all 
the rest of their nation before their eyes." Indeed, many at this 
time fled into Turkey to escape the intolerable burden of taxation, 
following in the footsteps of countless others, who from time to 
time had taken refuge there. 1 Large numbers of them also 
emigrated to Egypt, where many embraced Islam. 2 Especially 
galling to the Cretans were the exactions of the Latin clergy, who 
appropriated the endowments that belonged of right to the Greek 
ecclesiastics, and did everything they could to insult the Christians 
of the Greek rite, who constituted nine-tenths of the population 
of the island. 3 The Turks on the other hand conciliated their 
good-will by restoring the Greek hierarchy. This, according to 
a Venetian writer, was brought about in the following manner : 
" A certain papas or priest of Canea went to Cusseim the 
Turkish general, and told him that if he desired to gain the good- 
will of the Cretan people, and bring detestation upon the name 
of Venice, it was necessary for him to bear in mind that the 
staunchest of the links which keep civilized society from falling 
asunder is religion. It would be needful for him to act in a way 
different from the line followed by the Venetians. These did 
their utmost to root out the Greek faith and establish that of 
Rome in its place, with which interest they had made an injunc- 
tion that there should be no Greek bishops in the island. By 
thus removing these venerated and authoritative shepherds, they 
thought the more easily to gain control over the scattered flocks. 
This prohibition had caused such distress in the minds of the 
Cretans that they were ready to welcome with joy and obedience 
any sovereignty that would lend its will to the re-institution of 
this order in their hierarchy an order so essential for the proper 
exercise of their divine worship. He added, that it would be a 
further means of conciliating the people if they were assured that 
they would not only be confirmed in the old privileges of their 
religion, but that new privileges would be granted them. These 
arguments seemed to Cusseim so plausible that he wrote at once 
to Constantinople with a statement of them. Here they are 
approved, and the Greek Patriarch was bidden to institute an 
archbishop who should be metropole of the Province of Candia. 

1 Pashley, vol. ii. p. 285. 2 Pashley, vol. i. p. 319. 

* Perrot, p. 151. 


CRETE. 175 

Under the metropolitan seven other bishops were also to be 
nominated." l 

The Turkish conquest seems to have been very rapidly followed 
by the conversion of large numbers of the Cretans to Islam. It 
is not improbable that the same patriotism as made them cling to 
their old faith under the foreign domination of the Venetians 
who kept them at arm's length and regarded any attempt at 
assimilation as an unpardonable indignity, 2 and always tried to 
impress on their subjects a sense of their inferiority may have led 
them to accept the religion of their new masters, which at once 
raised them from the position of subjects to that of equals and 
gave them a share in the political life and government of their 
country. Whatever may have been the causes of the widespread 
conversions of the Cretans, it seems almost incredible that violence 
should have changed the religion of a people who had for cen- 
turies before clung firmly to their old faith despite the persecu- 
tion of a hostile and a foreign creed. Whatever may have been 
the means by which the ranks of Islam were filled, thirty years 
after the conquest we are told that the majority of the Muslims 
were renegades or the children of renegades, 3 and in little more 
than a century half the population of Crete had become Muham- 
madan. From one end of the island to the other, not only in the 
towns but also in the villages, in the inland districts and in the 
very heart of the mountains, were (and are still) found Cretan 
Muslims who in figure, habits and speech are thoroughly Greek. 
There never has been, and to the present day there is not, any 
other language spoken on the island of Crete except Greek ; even 
the few Turks to be found here have to adopt the language of 
the country and all the firmans of the Porte and decrees of the 
Pashas are read and published in Greek. 4 The bitter feelings 
between the Christians and Muhammadans of Crete that have 
made the history of this island during the present century so sad 
a one, was by no means so virulent before the outbreak of the 
Greek revolution, in days when the Cretan Muslims were very 
generally in the habit of taking as their wives Christian maidens, 
who retained their own faith, and often stood as godfathers to 

1 Charles Edwardes : Letters from Crete, pp. 90-92. (London, 1887.) 

2 Pashley, vol. ii. p. 15 1-2. 

8 Pashley, vol. i. p. 9. 4 Perrot, p. 159. 


the children of their Christian friends. 1 The social communica- 
tion between the two communities was further signified by their 
common dress, as the Cretans of both creeds dress so much alike 
that the distinction is often not even recognised by residents of 
long standing or by Greeks of the neighbouring islands. 2 

1 Pashley, vol. i. pp. 10, 195. 

3 T. A. B. Spratt : Travels and Researches in Crete, vol. i. p. 47 (Lond. 1865. 



In order to follow the course of the spread of Islam westward into 
Central Asia, we must retrace our steps to the period of the first 
Arab conquests. By the middle of the seventh century, the great 
dynasty of the Sasanids had fallen, and the vast empire of Persia 
that for four centuries had withstood the might of Rome and 
Byzantium, now became the heritage of the Muslims. When the 
armies of the state had been routed, the mass of the people 
offered little resistance ; the reigns of the last representatives of 
the Sasanid dynasty had been marked by terrible anarchy, and the 
sympathies of the people had been further alienated from their 
rulers on account of the support they gave to the persecuting 
policy of the state religion of Zoroastrianism. The Zoroastrian 
priests had acquired an enormous influence in the state ; they 
were well-nigh all-powerful in the councils of the king and 
arrogated to themselves a very large share in the civil administra- 
tion. They took advantage of their position to persecute all 
those religious bodies (and they were many) that dissented 
from them. Besides the numerous adherents of older forms of 
the Persian religion, there were Christians, Jews, Sabaeans and 
numerous sects in which the speculations of Gnostics, Mani- 
chseans and Buddhists found expression. In all of these, persecu- 
tion had stirred up feelings of bitter hatred against the established 
religion and the dynasty that supported its oppressions, and so 
caused the Arab conquest to appear in the light of a deliverance. 1 
The followers of all these varied , forms of faith could breathe 
again under a rule that granted them religious freedom and 
exemption from military service, on payment of a light tribute. 

1 A. de Gobineau (i), pp. 55-6. La Saussaye, vol. ii. pp. 45-6. 


For the Muslim law granted toleration and the right of paying 
jizyah not only to the Christians and Jews, but to Zoroastrians 
and Sabaeans, to worshippers of idols, of fire and of stone. 1 It was 
said that the Prophet himself had distinctly given directions that 
the Zoroastrians were to be treated exactly like " the people of 
the book," i.e. the Jews and Christians, and that jizyah might 
also be taken from them in return for protection. 2 

But the Muslim creed was most eagerly welcomed by the 
townsfolk, the industrial classes and the artizans, whose occupa- 
tions made them impure according to the Zoroastrian creed, 
because in the pursuance of their trade or occupations they 
defiled fire, earth or water, and who thus, outcasts in the eyes of 
the law and treated with scant consideration in consequence, 
embraced with eagerness a creed that made them at once free 
men, and equal in a brotherhood of faith. 3 Nor were the con- 
versions from Zoroastrian ism itself less striking : the fabric of the 
national church had fallen with a crash in the general ruin of 
the dynasty that had before upheld it ; having no other centre 
round which to rally, the followers of this creed would find the 
transition to Islam a simple and easy one, owing to the numerous 
points of similarity in the old creed and the new. For the 
Persian could find in the Qur'an many of the fundamental 
doctrines of his old faith, though in a rather different form : he 
would meet again Ahuramazda and Ahriman under the names of 
Allah and Iblis ; the creation of the world in six periods ; the 
angels and the demons ; the story of the primitive innocence of 
man ; the resurrection of the body and the doctrine of heaven 
and hell. 4 Even in the details of daily worship there were 
similarities to be found, and the followers of Zoroaster when they 
adopted Islam were enjoined by their new faith to pray five times 
a day just as they had been by the Avesta. 5 Those tribes in the 
north of Persia that had stubbornly resisted the ecclesiastical 
organisation of the state religion, on the ground that each man 
was a priest in his own household and had no need of any other, 
and believing in a supreme being and the immortality of the 
soul, taught that a man should love his neighbour, conquer his 

1 Abu Yusuf : Kitabu-1 Ebaraj, p. 73- 2 Id. Id. p. 74. 

3 A de Gobineau (2), pp. 306-310. 4 Dozy (1), p. 157. 

6 Haneberg, p. 5. 

PERSIA. 179 

passions, and strive patiently after a better life such men could 
have needed very little persuasion to induce them to accept the 
faith of the Prophet. 1 Islam had still more points of contact 
with some of the heretical sects of Persia, that had come under 
the influence of Christianity. 

In addition to the causes above enumerated of the rapid spread 
of Islam in Persia, it should be remembered that the political and 
national sympathies of the conquered race were also enlisted on 
behalf of the new religion through the marriage of Husayn, the 
son of 'All with Shahbanu, one of the daughters of Yazdagird, the 
last monarch of the Sasanid dynasty. In the descendants of 
Shahbanu and Husayn the Persians saw the heirs of their ancient 
kings and the inheritors of their national traditions and in this 
patriotic feeling may be found the explanation of the intense 
devotion of the Persians to the 'Alid faction and the first 
beginnings of Shi'ism as a separate sect. 2 

That this widespread conversion was not due to force or 
violence is evidenced by the toleration extended to those who 
still clung to their ancient faith. Even to the present day there 
are some small communities of fire-worshippers to be found in 
certain districts of Persia, and though these have in later years 
often had to suffer persecution, 3 their ancestors in the early 
centuries of the Hijrah enjoyed a remarkable degree of toleration, 
their fire-temples were respected, and we even read of a Muham- 
madan general (in the reign of Al Mu'tasim (833-842 a.d.), who 
ordered an imam and a mu'adhdhin to be flogged because they 
had destroyed a fire-temple in Sughd and built a mosque in its 
place. 4 In the tenth century, three centuries after the conquest 
of the country, fire-temples were to be found in 'Iraq, Ears, Kirman, 
Sijistan, Khurasan, Jibal, Adharbljan and Arran, i.e. in almost 
every province of Persia. 5 In Fars itself there were few cities in 

1 Dozy (1), p. 191. A. de Gobineau (1), p. 55. 

2 Les croyances Mazdeennes dans la religion Chiite, par Ahmed-Bey Agaeff. 
(Transactions of the Ninth International Congress of Orientalists, vol. ii. pp. 
509.511.) (London, 1893.) 

3 Dosabhai Framji Karaka : History of the Parsis, vol. i. pp. 56-9, 62-7. 
(London, 1884.) Nicolas de Khanikoff says that there were 12,000 families of 
fire -worshippers in Kirman at the end of the last century. (Memoire sur la partie 

.meridionale de l'Asie centrale, p. 193.) (Paris, 186 1.) 

4 Chwolsohn, vol. i. p. 287 

5 Mas'udi, vol. iv. p. 86 

N 2 


which fire-temples and Magians were not to be found. 1 Ash 
Sharastani also (writing as late as the twelfth century), makes 
mention of a fire-temple at Isfiniya, in the neighbourhood of 
Baghdad itself. 2 

In the face of such facts, it is surely impossible to attribute the 
decay of Zoroastrianism to violent conversions made by the 
Muslim conquerors. The number of Persians who embraced 
Islam in the early days of the Arab rule was probably very large 
from the various reasons given above, but the late survival of 
their ancient faith and the occasional record of conversions in the 
course of successive centuries, render it probable that the 
acceptance of Islam was both peaceful and voluntary. About 
the close of the eighth century, Saman, a noble of Balfch, having 
received assistance from Asad ibn 'Abdu-llah, the governor of 
Khurasan, renounced Zoroastrianism, embraced Islam and named 
his son Asad after his protector : it is from this convert that the 
dynasty of the Samanids (874-999 a.d.) took its name. About 
the beginning of the ninth century, Karim ibn Shahriyar was the 
first king of the Oabuslyah dynasty who became a Musalman,. 
and in 873 a large number of fire-worshippers were converted to 
Islam in Daylam through the influence of Nairu-1 Haqq Abu 
Muhammad. In the following century, about 912 a.d., Hasan 
ibn 'Ali, of the 'Alid dynasty on the southern shore of the 
Caspian Sea, who is said to have been a man of learning and 
intelligence and well acquainted with the religious opinions of 
different sects, invited the inhabitants of Tabaristan and Daylam,. 
who were partly idolaters and partly Magians, to accept Islam ; 
many of them responded to his call, while others persisted in 
their former state of unbelief. 3 In the year 394 a.h. (1003-4 a.d.),. 
a famous poet, Abii-1 Hasan Mihyar, a native of Daylam, who had 
been a fire-worshipper, was converted to Islam by a still more 
famous poet, the Sharif Ar Rida, who was his master in the poetic 
art. 4 Scanty as these notices of conversions are, yet the very fact 
that such can be found up to three centuries and a half after the 
Muslim conquest is clear testimony to the toleration the Persians 

1 Das Buch der Lander von Schech Ebu Ishak el Farsi el Isztachri, ubersetzt 
von A. D. Mordtmann, p. 62-3. (Hamburg, 1845.) 

2 Kitabu-1 milal wa-n nihal, edited by Cureton, part i. p. 198. 
1 Mas'udI, vol. viii. p. 279 ; vol. ix. p. 4-5. 

4 Ibn Khallikan, vol. iii. p. 517. 



enjoyed, and argues that their conversion to Islam was peaceful 
and, to some extent at least, gradual. 

In the middle of the eighth century, Persia gave birth to a 
movement that is of interest in the missionary history of Islam, 
viz. the sect of the Isma'Ilians. This is not the place to enter into 
a history of this sect or of the theological position taken up by its 
followers, or of the social and political factors that lent it strength, 
but it demands attention here on account of the marvellous 
missionary organisation whereby it was propagated. The founder 
of this organisation which rivals that of the Jesuits for the keen 
insight into human nature it displays and the consummate skill 
with which the doctrines of the sect were accommodated to 
varying capacities and prejudices was a certain 'Abdu-llah ibn 
Maymun, who early in the ninth century infused new life into the 
Isma'ilians. He sent out his missionaries in all directions under 
various guises, very frequently as sufls but also as merchants and 
traders and the like : they were instructed to be all things to all 
men and to win over different classes of men to allegiance to the 
grandmaster of their sect, by speaking to each man, as it were, in 
his own language, and accommodating their teaching to the 
varying capacities and opinions of their hearers. They captivated 
the ignorant multitude by the performance of marvels that were 
taken for miracles and by mysterious utterances that excited their 
curiosity. To the devout they appeared as models of virtue and 
religious zeal ; to the mystics they revealed the hidden meaning 
of popular teachings and initiated them into various grades of 
occultism according to their capacity. Taking advantage of the 
eager looking-forward to a deliverer that was common to so 
many faiths of the time, they declared to the Musalmans the 
approaching advent of the Imam Mahdi, to the Jews that of the 
Messiah, and to the Christians that of the Comforter, but taught 
that the aspirations of each could alone be realised in the coming 
of 'All as the great deliverer. With the Shi'ah, the Isma'ilian 
missionary was to put himself forward as the zealous partisan of 
all the Shi'ah doctrine, was to dwell upon the cruelty and injustice 
of the Sunnis towards 'All and his sons, and liberally abuse the 
Sunni Khalifahs ; having thus prepared the way, he was to 
insinuate, as the necessary completion of the Shi'ah system of 
faith, the more esoteric doctrines of the Isma/Ilian sect. In 
dealing with the Jew, he was to speak with contempt of both 


Christians and Muslims and agree with his intended convert in 
still looking forward to a promised Messiah, but gradually lead 
him to believe that this promised Messiah could be none other 
than 'Ali, the great Messiah of the Isma'ilian system. If he 
sought to win over the Christian, he was to dwell upon the 
obstinacy of the Jews and the ignorance of the Muslims, to 
profess reverence for the chief articles of the Christian creed, but 
gently hint that they were symbolic and pointed to a deeper 
meaning, to which the Isma'ilian system alone could supply the 
key ; he was also cautiously to suggest that the Christians had 
somewhat misinterpreted the doctrine of the Paraclete and that it 
was in 'Ali that the true Paraclete was to be found. Similarly 
the Isma'ilian missionaries who made their way into India 
endeavoured to make their doctrines acceptable to the Hindus, 
by representing 'All as the promised tenth Avatar of Visnu who 
was to come from the West, i.e. (they averred) from Alamiit. 
They also wrote a Mahdi Purana and composed hymns in 
imitation of those of the Vamacarins or left-hand Saktas, whose 
mysticism already predisposed their minds to the acceptance of 
the esoteric doctrines of the Isma'ilians. 1 

By such means as these an enormous number of persons of 
different faiths were united together to push forward an enter- 
prise, the real aim of which was known to very few. The 
aspirations of 'Abdu-llah ibn Maymiin seem to have been entirely 
political, but as the means he adopted were religious and the one 
common bond if any that bound his followers together was the 
devout expectation of the coming of the Imam Mahdi, the 
missionary activity connected with the history of this sect 
deserves this brief mention in these pages. 2 

The history of the spread of Islam in the countries of Central 
Asia to the north of Persia presents little in the way of missionary 
activity. When Ibn Qutaybah went to Samarqand, he found 
many idols there, whose worshippers maintained that any man 
who dared outrage them would at once fall down dead ; the 
Muslim conqueror, undeterred by such superstitious fears, set fire 
to the idols ; whereupon the idolaters embraced Islam. 3 There 

1 Khoja Vrittant, pp. 141-8. For a further account of Isma'ilian missionaries 
in India, see chap. ix. 

2 Le Bon Silvestre De Sacy : Expose de la Religion des Druzes, tome i. 
pp. lxvii-lxxvi, cxlviii-clxii. 

3 At Baladhurl, p. 421. 


is however but scanty record of such conversions in the early 
history of the Muslim advance into Central Asia ; moreover the 
people of this country seem often to have pretended to embrace 
Islam for a time and then to have thrown off the mask and 
renounced their allegiance to the caliph as soon as the conquering 
armies were withdrawn. 1 In Bukhara and Samarqand the 
opposition to the new faith was so violent and obstinate that none 
but those who had embraced Islam were allowed to carry arms, 
and for many years the Muslims dared not appear unarmed in the 
mosques or other public places, while spies had to be set to keep 
a watch on the new converts. The conquerors made various 
efforts to gain proselytes, and even tried to encourage attendance 
at the Friday prayers in the mosques by rewards of money, and 
allowed the Qur'an to be recited in Persian instead of in Arabic r 
in order that it might be intelligible to all. 2 

The traditions of the A fgh an people represent the new faith as 
having been peaceably introduced among their tribes. In the 
first century of the Hijrah they occupied the Ghor country to the 
east of Herat, and it was there that Khalid ibn Walid is said to 
have come to them with the tidings of Islam and to have invited 
them to join the standard of the Prophet. He returned to 
Muhammad accompanied by a deputation of six or seven repre- 
sentative men of the A fgh an people and their followers ; these, 
when they went back to their own country, set to work to 
convert their fellow-tribesmen. 3 This tradition is however 
probably without any historical foundation in fact, and the earliest 
authentic mention of conversion to Islam from among the 
Af gh ans seems to be that of a king of Kabul in the reign of 
Al Ma'mun. 4 

In the north the progress of Islam was very slow : some of the 
people of Transoxania accepted the invitation of 'Umar II. 
(a.d. 717-720) to embrace Islam, 5 and large numbers were 
converted through the preaching of a certain Abu Sayda in the 
reign of Hisham (724-743), 6 but it was not until the reign of 
Al Mu'taim (a.d. 833-842) that Islam was generally adopted 
there, 7 one of the reasons probably being the more intimate 

1 Vambery (2), p. 201. 2 Vambery (1), vol. i. pp. 33-4. 

3 Bellew, pp. 15-16. 4 Al Baladhurl, p. 402. 

5 Id. p. 426. 8 Tabarl, ii. p. 1507 sqq. 

7 Al Baliidhurl, p." 431. 


relations established at this time with the then capital of the 
Muhammadan world, Baghdad, through the enormous numbers 
of Turks that flocked in thousands from these parts to join the 
army of the caliph. 1 Islam having thus gained a footing among 
the Turkish tribes seems to have made but slow progress until 
the middle of the tenth century, when the conversion of some of 
their chieftains to Islam, like that of Clovis and other barbarian 
kings of Northern Europe to Christianity, led their clansmen to 
follow their example in a body. Thus the founder of the dynasty 
of the Ilak Ehans of Turkistan, who for a time united under their 
rule the Turkish tribes from the Caspian Sea to the borders of 
China, became a Muslim together with two thousand families 
of his tribe, to whom he gave the name of Turkomans to 
distinguish them from the Turks that still remained unconverted. 2 

Among the Turkish chieftains that took part in the wars of 
this dynasty was a certain Saljuq who, in 956 a.d., migrated from 
the Kirghiz steppes with all his clan to the province of Bukhara, 
where he and his people enthusiastically embraced Islam. This 
was the origin of the famous Saljuq Turks, whose wars and 
conquests revived the fading glory of the Muhammadan arms and 
united into one empire the Muslim kingdoms of Western Asia. 

When at the close of the twelfth century, the Saljuq Empire 
had lost all power except in Asia Minor, and when Muhammad 
Ghori was extending his empire from Khurasan eastward across 
the north of India, there was a great revival of the Muslim faith 
among the Afghans and their country was overrun by Arab 
preachers and converts from India, who set about the task of 
proselytising with remarkable energy and boldness. 3 

Of the further history of Islam in Persia and Central Asia some 
details will be found in the following chapter. 

1 August Muller, vol. i. p. 520. 2 Hammer (1), vol. i. p. 7. 

3 Bellew, p. 96. 



There is no event in the history of Islam that for terror and 
desolation can be compared to the Mongol conquest. Like an 
avalanche, the hosts of Jingis Khan swept over the centres of 
Muslim culture and civilisation, leaving behind them bare deserts 
and shapeless ruins where before had stood the palaces of stately 
cities, girt about with gardens and fruitful corn-land. When the 
Mongol army had marched out of the city of Herat, a miserable 
remnant of forty persons crept out of their hiding-places and 
gazed horror-stricken on the ruins of their beautiful city all that 
were left out of a population of over 100,000. In Bukhara, so 
famed for its men of piety and learning, the Mongols stabled their 
horses in the sacred precincts of the mosques and tore up the 
Qur'ans to serve as litter ; those of the inhabitants who were not 
butchered were carried away into captivity and their city reduced 
to ashes. Such too was the fate of Samarqand, Balkh and many 
another city of Central Asia, which had been the glories of Islamic 
civilisation and the dwelling-places of holy men and the seats of 
sound learning such too the fate of Baghdad that for centuries 
had been the capital of the 'Abbasid dynasty. 

Well might the Muhammadan historian shudder to relate such 
horrors ; when Ibnu-1 Athir comes to describe the inroads of the 
Mongols into the countries of Islam, "for many years," he tells 
us, "I shrank from giving a recital of these events on account of 
their magnitude and my abhorrence. Even now I come reluctant 
to the task, for who would deem it a light thing to sing the death- 
song of Islam and of the Musalmans, or find it easy to tell this 
tale ? O that my mother had not given me birth ! j Oh, would 
that I had died ere this, and been a thing forgotten, forgotten 


quite ! ' ' Many friends have urged me and still I stood irresolute ; 
but I saw that it was of no profit to forego the task and so I thus 
resume. I shall have to describe events so terrible and calamities 
so stupendous that neither day nor night have ever brought forth 
the like ; they fell on all nations, but on the Muslims more than 
all ; and were one to say that since God created Adam the world 
has not seen the like, he would but tell the truth, for history has 
nothing to relate that at all approaches it. Among the greatest 
calamities in history is the slaughter that Nebuchadnezzar wrought 
among the children of Israel and his destruction of the Temple ; 
but what is Jerusalem in comparison to the countries that these 
accursed ones laid waste, every town of which was far greater 
than Jerusalem, and what were the children of Israel in com- 
parison to those they slew, since the inhabitants of one of the 
cities they destroyed were greater in numbers than all the children 
of Israel ? Let us hope that the world may never see the like 
again." 3 But Islam was to rise again from the ashes of its former 
grandeur and through its preachers win over these savage con- 
querors to the acceptance of the faith. This was a task for the 
missionary energies of Islam that was rendered more difficult 
from the fact that there were two powerful competitors in the 
field. The spectacle of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam emu- 
lously striving to win the allegiance of the fierce conquerors that 
had set their feet on the necks of adherents of these great mis- 
sionary religions, is one that is without parallel in the history of 
the world. 

Before entering on a recital of this struggle, it will be well in 
order to the comprehension of what is to follow briefly to glance 
at the partition of the Mongol empire after the death of Jingis 
Kban, when it was split up into four sections and divided among 
his sons. His third son, Ogotay, succeeded his father as Khaqaan 
and received as his share the eastern portion of the empire, in 
which Kubhilay Khan afterwards included the whole of China. 
Jagatay the second son took the middle kingdom. Batu, the 
son of his first-born Juji, ruled the western portion as Khan of 
the Golden Horde ; Tuluy the fourth son took Persia, to which 
Hulagu, who founded the dynasty of the Ilkhans, added a great 
part of Asia Minor. 

1 Qur'an, xix. 23. 

2 Ibnu-1 Athlr : Tarlkhu-l Kamil, vol. xii. p. 147-8. 



The primitive religion of the Mongols was Shamanism, which 
while recognising a supreme God, offered no prayers to Him, but 
worshipped a number of inferior divinities, especially the evil 
spirits whose powers for harm had to be deprecated by means of 
sacrifices, and the souls of ancestors who were considered to 
exercise an influence on the lives of their descendants. To 
propitiate these powers of the heaven and of the lower world, 
recourse was had to the Shamans, wizards or medicine-men, who 
were credited with possessing mysterious influence over the 
elements and the spirits of the departed. Their religion was not 
one that was calculated to withstand long the efforts of a prosely- 
tising faith, possessed of a systematic theology capable of satisfying 
the demands of the reason and an organised body of religious 
teachers when once the Mongols had been brought into contact 
with civilised races, had responded to their civilising influences 
and begun to pass out of their nomadic barbarism. It so happened 
that the civilised races with which the conquest of the Mongols 
brought them in contact comprised large numbers of Buddhists, 
Christians and Muhammadans, and the adherents of these three 
great missionary faiths entered into rivalry with one another for 
the conversion of their conquerors. When not carried away 
by the furious madness for destruction and insult that usually 
characterised their campaigns, the Shamanist Mongols showed 
themselves remarkably tolerant of other religions, whose priests 
were exempted from taxation and allowed perfect freedom of 
worship. Buddhist priests held controversies with the Shamans 
in the presence of Jingis Khan ; and at the courts of Mangu Khan 
and Khubilay Khan the Buddhist and Christian priests and the 
Muslim Imams alike enjoyed the patronage of the Khaqaan. 1 In 
the reign of the latter monarch the Mongols in China began to 
yield to the powerful influences of the surrounding Buddhism, 
and by the beginning of the fourteenth century the Buddhist 
faith seems to have gained a complete ascendancy over them. 2 
It was the Lamas of Thibet who showed themselves most zealous 
in this work of conversion, and the people of Mongolia to the 
present day cling to the same faith, as do the Kalmuks who 
migrated to Russia in the seventeenth century. 

1 Guillaume de Rubrouck, pp. 165, 231. 

C. d'Ohsson, tome ii. p. 488. 
* Da Guignes, tome iii. pp. 200, 203. 


Although Buddhism made itself finally supreme in the eastern 
part of the empire, at first the influence of the Christian Church 
was by no means inconsiderable and great hopes were entertained 
of the conversion of the Mongols. The Nestorian missionaries in 
the seventh century had carried the knowledge of the Christian 
faith from west to east across Asia as far as the north of China, 
and scattered communities were still to be found in the thirteenth 
century. The famous Prester John, around whose name cluster 
so many legends of the Middle Ages, is supposed to have been 
the chief of the Karaits, a Christian Tartar tribe living to the 
south of Lake Baikal. When this tribe was conquered by Jingis 
Khan, he married one of the daughters of the then chief of the 
tribe, while his son Ogotay took a wife from the same family. 
Ogotay's son, Kuyuk Khan, although he did not himself become 
a Christian, showed great favour towards this faith, to which his 
chief minister and one of his secretaries belonged. The Nestorian 
priests were held in high favour at his court and he received an 
embassy from Pope Innocent IV. 1 The Christian powers both of 
the East and the West looked to the Mongols to assist them in 
their wars against the Musalmans. It was Heythoum, the Chris- 
tian King of Armenia, who was mainly instrumental in persuading 
Mangu Khan to despatch the expedition that sacked Baghdad 
under the leadership of Hulagu, 2 the influence of whose Christian 
wife led him to show much favour to the Christians, and especi- 
ally to the Nestorians. Many of the Mongols who occupied the 
countries of Armenia and Georgia were converted by the Chris- 
tians of these countries and received baptism. 3 The marvellous 
tales of the greatness and magnificence of Prester John, that fired 
the imagination of mediaeval Europe, had given rise to a belief 
that the Mongols were Christians a belief which was further 
strengthened by the false reports that reached Europe of the 
conversion of various Mongol Khans and their zeal for the Chris- 
tian cause. It was under this delusion that St. Louis sent an 
ambassador, William of Rubrouck, to exhort the great Khan to 
persevere in his supposed efforts for the spread of the Christian 
faith. But these reports were soon discovered to be without any 
foundation in fact, though William of Rubrouck found that the 

1 De Guigncs, vol. iii. p. 115. 
Id. p. 125. 

3 Klaproth, p. 204. 


Christian religion was freely tolerated at the court of Mangu 
Khan, and the adhesion of some few Mongols to this faith made 
the Christian priests hopeful of still further conquests. But so 
long as Latins, Greeks, Nestorians and Armenians carried their 
theological differences into the very midst of the Mongol camp,, 
there was very little hope of much progress being made, and 
it is probably this very want of union among the preachers of 
Christianity that caused their efforts to meet with so little success 
among the Mongols ; so that while they were fighting among one- 
another, Buddhism and Islam were gaining a firm footing for 
themselves. The haughty pretensions of the Roman Pontiff soon 
caused the proud conquerors of half the world to withdraw from 
his emissaries what little favour they might at first have been 
inclined to show, and many other circumstances contributed to 
the failure of the Roman mission. 1 

As for the Nestorians, who had been first in the field, they 
appear to have been too degraded and apathetic to take much 
advantage of their opportunities. Of the Nestorians in China,, 
William of Rubrouck 2 says that they were very ignorant and 
could not even understand their service books, which were written 
in Syriac. He accuses them of drunkenness, polygamy and 
covetousness, and makes an unfavourable comparison between 
their lives and those of the Buddhist priests. Their bishop paid 
them very rare visits sometimes only once in fifty years : on 
such occasions he would ordain all the male children, even the- 
babies in their cradles. The priests were eaten up with simony, 
made a traffic of the sacred rites of their church and concerned 

themselves more with money-making than with the propagation 
of the faith. 3 

In the western parts of the Mongol empire, where the Christians, 
looked to the newly-risen power to help them in their wars with 
the Musalmans and to secure for them the possession of the Holy 
Land, the alliance between the Christians and the Ilkhans of Persia 
was short-lived, as the victories of Baybars, the Mamliik Sultan of 

1 C. d'Ohsson, tome ii. pp. 226-7. 

2 Of this writer Col. Yule says, " He gives an unfavourable account of the 
literature and morals of their clergy, which deserves more weight than such 
statements regarding those looked upon as schismatics generally do; for the 
narrative of Rubruquis gives one the impression of being written by a thoroughly 
honest and intelligent person." Cathay and the way thither, vol. i. p. xcviii. 

3 Guillaume de Rubrouck, pp. 128-9. 


Egypt ( 1 260-1 277) and his alliance with Baraka Khan, gave the 
IlkJians quite enough to do to look after their own interests. 
The excesses that the Christians of Damascus and other cities 
committed during the brief period in which they enjoyed the 
favour of this Mongol dynasty of Persia, did much to discredit the 
Christian name in Western Asia. 1 

For Islam to enter into competition with such powerful rivals 
as Buddhism and Christianity were at that time, must have 
appeared a well-nigh hopeless undertaking. For the Muslims 
had suffered more from the storm of the Mongol invasions than 
the others. Those cities that had hitherto been the rallying 
points of spiritual organisation and learning for Islam in Asia, 
had been for the most part laid in ashes : the theologians and 
pious doctors of the faith, either slain or carried away into cap- 
tivity. 2 Among the Mongol rulers usually so tolerant towards 
all religions there were some who exhibited varying degrees of 
hatred towards the Muslim faith. Jingis Khan ordered all those 
who killed animals in the Muhammadan fashion to be put to 
death, and this ordinance was revived by Khubilay S^an, who by 
offering rewards to informers set on foot a sharp persecution that 
lasted for seven years, as many poor persons took advantage of 
this ready means of gaining wealth, and slaves accused their 
masters, in order to gain their freedom. 3 During the reign of 
Kuyuk Khan (1246- 1248), who left the conduct of affairs entirely 
to his two Christian ministers and whose court was filled with 
Christian monks, the Muhammadans were made to suffer great 
severities. 4 Arghun (12 84-1291) the fourth lli&an persecuted 
the Musalmans and took away from them all posts in the depart- 
ments of justice and finance, and fordade them to appear at his 
court. 5 

In spite of all difficulties, however, the Mongols and the savage 

1 Maqrm (2), tome i. Premiere Partie, pp. 98, 106. 

2 So notoriously brutal was the treatment they received that even the Chinese 
showmen in their exhibitions of shadow figures exultingly brought forward the 
figure of an old man with a white beard dragged by the neck at the tail of a horse, 
as showing how the Mongol horsemen behaved towards the Musalmans. 
(Howorth, vol. i. p. 159.) 

3 Howorth, vol. i. pp. 112, 273. This edict was only withdrawn when it was 
found that it prevented Muhammadan merchants from visiting the court and that 
trade suffered in consequence. 

4 Howorth, vol. i. p. 165. 

6 De Guignes, vol. iii. p. 265. 


tribes that followed in their wake, were at length brought to 
submit to the faith of those Muslim peoples whom they had 
crushed beneath their feet. Unfortunately history sheds little 
light on the progress of this missionary movement and only a 
few details relating to the conversion of the more prominent 
converts have been preserved to us. Scattered up and down 
throughout the length and breadth of the Mongol empire, there 
must have been many of the followers of the Prophet who 
laboured successfully and unknown, to win unbelievers to the 
faith. In the reign of Ogatay Khan (1229-1241), we read of a 
certain Buddhist governor of Persia, named Kurguz, who in his 
later years abjured Buddhism and became a Musalman. 1 In the 
reign of Timur Khan (1323-1328), Ananda, a grandson of Khubilay 
Khan and viceroy of Kansuh, was a zealous Musalman and had 
converted a great many persons in Tangut and won over a portion 
of the troops under his command to the same faith. He was 
summoned to court and efforts were made to induce him to 
conform to Buddhism, and on his refusing to abandon his faith he 
was cast into prison. But he was shortly after set at liberty, for 
fear of an insurrection among the inhabitants of Tangut, who were 
much attached to him. 2 

The first Mongol ruling prince that embraced Islam was Baraka 
Ehan, who was chief of the Golden Horde from 1256 to 1265. 3 
He is said one day to have fallen in with a caravan coming from 
Bukhara, and taking two of the merchants aside, to have 
questioned them on the doctrines of Islam, and they expounded 
to him their faith so persuasively that he became converted in all 
sincerity. He first revealed his change of faith to his youngest 
brother, whom he induced to follow his example, and then made 
open profession of his new belief. 4 After his conversion, Baraka 
JDian entered into a close alliance with the Mamluk Sultan of 
Egypt, Ruknu-d Din Baybars. The initiative came from the 
latter, who had given a hospitable reception to a body of troops, 
two hundred in number, belonging to the Golden Horde ; these 

1 C. d'Ohsson, vol. iii. p. 121. 

2 C. d'Ohsson, tome ii. p. 532-3. 

3 It is of interest to note that Najmu-d Din Mukitaru-z ZahidI in 1260 
compiled for Baraka Khan a treatise which gave the proofs of the divine mission 
of the Prophet, a refutation of those who denied it, and an account of the 
controversies between Christians and Muslims. (Steinschneider, pp. 63-4.) 

4 Abu-1 Czhazi, tome ii. p. 1 81. 


men, observing the growing enmity between their Khan and 
Hulagu, the conqueror of Baghdad, m whose army they were 
serving, took flight into Syria, whence they were honourably 
conducted to Cairo to the court of Baybars, who persuaded them 
to embrace Islam. 1 Baybars himself was at war with Hulagu, 
whom he had recently defeated and driven out of Syria. He 
sent two of the Mongol fugitives, with some other envoys, to 
bear a letter to Baraka Khan. On their return these envoys 
reported that each princess and amir at the court of Baraka Khan 
had an imam and a mu'adhdhin and the children were taught 
the Qur'an in the schools. 2 While on their way the envoys of 
Baybars met an embassy that had been sent to Egypt by Baraka 
Khan, 3 to bear the news of the conversion of himself and his 
subjects to Islam. These friendly relations between Baybars 
and Baraka Khan brought many of the Mongols of the Golden 
Horde into Egypt, where they were prevailed upon to become 
Musalmans. 4 

In Persia, where Hulagu founded the dynasty of the Ill&ans,. 
the progress of Islam amQng the Mongols was much slower. In 
order to strengthen himself against the attacks of Baraka Khan and 
the Sultan of Egypt, Hulagu accepted the alliance of the Christian 
powers of the East, such as the king of Armenia and the Crusaders. 
His favourite wife was a Christian and favourably disposed the 
mind of her husband towards her co-religionists, and his son 
Abaga Khan married the daughter of the Emperor of Constanti- 
nople. Though Abaga Khan did not himself become a Christian,, 
his court was filled with Christian priests, and he sent envoys to 
several of the princes of Europe St. Louis of France, King 
Charles of Sicily and King James of Aragon to solicit their 
alliance against the Muhammadans ; to the same end also, an 
embassy of sixteen Mongols was sent to the Council of Lyons in 
1274, where the spokesman of this embassy embraced Christianity 
and was baptised with some of his companions. Great hopes 
were entertained of the conversion of Abaga, but they proved 
fruitless. His brother Tokudar, 5 who succeeded him, was the first 
of the llldians who embraced^Islam. He had been brought up as 

1 Maqrlzl (2), tome i. pp. 180-1, 187. 

3 Id. p. 215. 

3 Id. p. 188. 4 Id. p. 222. 

5 Wassaf calls him Nikudar before, and Ahmad after, his conversion. 


a Christian, for (as a contemporary Christian writer 1 tells us), 
"he was baptised when young and called by the name of 
Nicholas. But when he was grown up, through his intercourse 
with Saracens, of whom he was very fond, he became a base 
Saracen, and, renouncing the Christian faith, wished to be called 
Muhammad Khan, and strove with all his might that the Tartars 
should be converted to the faith and sect of Muhammad, and 
when they proved obstinate, not daring to force them, he brought 
about their conversion by giving them honours and favours and 
gifts, so that in his time many Tartars were converted to the faith 
of the Saracens." This prince sent the news of his conversion to 
the Sultan of Egypt in the following letter : " By the power of 
God Almighty, the mandate of Ahmad to the Sultan of Egypt. 
God Almighty (praised be His name !) by His grace preventing 
us and by the light of His guidance, hath guided us in our early 
youth and vigour into* the true path of the knowledge of His 
deity and the confession of His unity, to bear witness that 
Muhammad (on whom rest the highest blessings !) is the Prophet 
of God, and to reverence His saints and His pious servants. 
1 Whom God shall please to guide, that man's breast will He open 
to Islam.' 3 We ceased not to incline our heart to the promotion 
of the faith and the improvement of the condition of Islam and 
the Muslims, up to the time when the succession to the empire 
came to us from our illustrious father and brother, and God 
spread over us the glory of His grace and kindness, so that in the 
abundance of His favours our hopes were realised, and He 
revealed to us the bride of the- kingdom, and she was brought 
forth to us a noble spouse. A Kurlltai or general assembly was 
convened, wherein our brothers, our sons, great nobles, generals 
of the army and captains of the forces, met to hold council ; and 
they were all agreed on carrying out the order of our elder 
brother, viz. to summon here a vast levy of our troops whose 
numbers would make the earth, despite its vastness, appear too 
narrow, whose fury and fierce onset would fill the hearts of men 
with fear, being animated with a courage before which the 
mountain peaks bow down, and a firm purpose that makes the 
hardest rocks grow soft. We reflected on this their resolution 
which expressed the wish of all, and we concluded that it ran 

1 Heythoum (Ramusio, Tom. ii,p. 60, c-) 

2 Qur'an, vi 125. 


counter to the aim we had in view to promote the common 
weal, i.e. to strengthen the ordinance of Islam ; never, as far as 
lies in our power, to issue any order that will not tend to prevent 
bloodshed, remove the ills of men, and cause the breeze of peace 
and prosperity to blow on all lands, and the kings of other 
countries to rest upon the couch of affection and benevolence, 
whereby the commands of God will be honoured and mercy be 
shown to the people of God. Herein, God inspired us to quench 
this fire and put an end to these terrible calamities, and make 
known to those who advanced this proposal (of a levy) what it is 
that God has put into our hearts to do, namely, to employ all 
possible means for the healing of all the sickness of the world, 
and putting off what should only be appealed to as the last 
remedy. For we desire not to hasten to appeal to arms, until we 
have first declared the right path, and will permit it only after 
setting forth the truth and establishing it with proofs. Our 
resolve to carry out whatever appears to us good and advantageous 
has been strengthened by the counsels of the Shay]dm-1 Islam, 
the model of divines, who has given us much assistance in 
religious matters. We have appointed our chief justice, Qutbu-d 
Din and the Atabak, Bahau-d Din, both trustworthy persons of 
this flourishing kingdom, to make known to you our course of 
action and bear witness to our good intentions for the common 
weal of the Muslims ; and to make it known that God has 
enlightened us, and that Islam annuls all that has gone before it, 
and that God Almighty has put it into our hearts to follow the 
truth and those who practice it. . . . If some convincing proof be 
required, let men observe our actions. By the grace of God, we 
have raised aloft the standards of the faith, and borne witness to 
it in all our orders and our practice, so that the ordinances of the 
law of Muhammad might be brought to the fore and firmly 
established in accordance with the principles of justice laid down 
by A^mad. Whereby we have filled the hearts of the people 
with joy, have granted free pardon to all offenders, and shown 
them indulgences, saying ' May God pardon the past ! ' We have 
reformed all matters concerning the pious endowments of Muslims 
given for mosques, colleges, charitable institutions, and the 
rebuilding of caravanserais : we have restored their incomes to 
those to whom they were due according to the terms laid down 
by the donors. . . . We have ^ordered the pilgrims to be treated. 


with respect, provision to be made for their caravans and for 
securing their safety on the pilgrim routes ; we have given 
perfect freedom to merchants, travelling from one country to 
another, that they may go wherever they please : and we have 
strictly prohibited our soldiers and police from interfering with 
them in their comings or goings." He seeks the alliance of the 
Sultan of Egypt " so that these countries and cities may again be 
populated, these terrible calamities be put down, the sword be 
returned to the scabbard ; that all peoples may dwell in peace 
and quietness, and the necks of the Muslims be freed from the 
ills of humiliation and disgrace." l 

To the student of the history of the Mongols it is a relief to 
pass from the recital of nameless horrors and continual bloodshed 
to a document emanating from a Mongol prince, that gives 
expression to such humane and benevolent sentiments, which 
sound strange coming from such lips. 

This conversion of their chief and the persecutions that he 
inflicted on the Christians gave great offence to the Mongols, 
who, although not Christians themselves, had been long 
accustomed to intercourse with the Christians, and they 
denounced their chief to Khubilay Khan as one who had 
abandoned the footsteps of his forefathers. A revolt broke 
out against him, headed by his nephew Arghun, who compassed 
his death and succeeded him on the throne. During his brief 
reign (1284-1291), the Christians were once more restored to 
favour, while the Musalmans had to suffer persecution in their 
turn, were dismissed from their posts and driven away from the 
court. 2 

The successors of Tokudar were all heathen, until, in 1295, 
Ghazan, the seventh and greatest of the Ilkhans, became a 
Musalman and made Islam the ruling religion of Persia. During 
the last three reigns the Christians had entertained great hopes 
of the conversion of the ruling family of Persia, who had shown 
them such distinguished favour and entrusted them with so many 
important offices of state. His immediate predecessor, the 
insurgent Baydu, who occupied the throne for a few months only 
in 1295, carried his predilection for Christianity so far as to try to 
put a stop to the spread of Islam among the Mongols, and 

1 Wassaf, pp. 231-4. 

2 De Guignes, vol. iii. pp. 263-5, 

O 2 


accordingly forbade anyone to preach the doctrines of this faith 
among them. 1 

Ghazan himself before his conversion had been brought up as a 
Buddhist and had erected several Buddhist temples in ghurasan, 
and took great pleasure in the company of the priests of this faith, 
who had come into Persia in large numbers since the establish- 
ment of the Mongol supremacy over that country. 2 He appears 
to have been naturally of a religious turn of mind, for he studied 
the creeds of the different religions of his time, and used to hold 
discussions with the learned doctors of each faith. 3 Rashidu-d 
Din, his learned minister and the historian of his reign, was there- 
fore probably correct in maintaining the genuineness of his con- 
version to Islam, the religious observances of which he zealously 
kept throughout his whole reign, though his contemporaries (and 
later writers have often re-echoed the imputation) represented him 
as having only yielded to the solicitations of some Amirs and 
Shaykhs. 4 " Besides, what interested motive, " asks his apologist, 
" could have led so powerful a sovereign to change his faith : much 
less, a prince whose pagan ancestors had conquered the world ? " 
His conversion however certainly won over to his side the hearts 
of the Persians, when he was contending with Baydu for the 
throne, and the Muhammadan Mongols in the army of his rival 
deserted to support the cause of their co-religionist. These were 
the very considerations that were urged upon Ghazan by Nuruz, a 
Muhammadan Amir who had espoused his cause and who hailed 
him as the prince who, according to a prophecy, was to appear 
about this time to protect the faith of Islam and restore it to its 
former splendour : if he embraced Islam, he could become the 
ruler of Persia : the Musalmans, delivered from the grievous yoke 
of the Pagan Mongols, would espouse his cause, and God recog- 
nising in him the saviour of the true faith from utter destruction 
would bless his arms with victory. 6 After hesitating a little, 
Ghazan made a public profession of the faith, and his officers and 
soldiers followed his example: he distributed alms to men of piety 
and learning and visited the mosques and tombs of the saints and 
in every way showed himself an exemplary Muslim ruler. His 
brother who succeeded him in 1304, under the name of 

1 C. d'Ohsson. tome iv. pp. 141-2. : Id. ib. p. 148. 

3 Id. ib. p. 365. 4 Id. ib. pp. 148, 354. 

5 Id. ib. pp. 128, 132. 


Muhammad Khudabandah, had been brought up as a Christian in 
the faith of his mother and had been baptised under the name of 
Nicholas, but after his mother's death while he was still a young 
man, he became a convert to Islam through the persuasions of his 
wife. 1 Ibn Batutah says that his example exercised a great in- 
fluence on the Mongols. 2 From this time forward Islam became 
the paramount faith in the kingdom of the Tlkhans. 

The details that we possess of the progress of Islam in the 
Middle Kingdom that fell to the lot of Jagatay and his descendants,, 
are still more meagre. The first of this line who " had the 
blessedness of receiving the light of the faith " was Buraq Khan 
(a great grandson of Jagatay), who embraced Islam two years after 
his accession to the throne and took the name of Ghlyasu-d Din 
(1266-70). 3 But at first the success of Islam was short-lived, for 
after the death of this prince, those who had been converted 
during his reign relapsed into their former heathenism ; and it 
was not until the next century that the conversion of Tarmashirin 
Khan (1322- 1330) caused Islam to be at all generally adopted by 
the Jagatay Mongols, who when they followed the example of 
their chief this time remained true to their new faith. But even 
now the ascendancy of Islam was not assured, for his successor 
persecuted the Muslims, 4 and it was not until some years later that 
we hear of the first Musalman king of Kashgar, which the break- 
up of the Jagatay dynasty had erected into a separate kingdom. 
This prince, Ttiqluq Timur Khan (1347-1363), is said to have owed 
his conversion to a holy man from Bukhara, by name Shaykh. 

1 Hammer-Purgstall : Geschichte der Ilchanen, vol. ii. p. 182. 

It is not improbable that the captive Muslim women took a considerable 
part in the conversion of the Mongols to Islam. Women appear to have occupied 
an honoured position among the Mongols and many instances might be given of 
their having taken a prominent part in political affairs, just as already several 
cases have been mentioned of the influence they exercised on their husbands in 
religious matters. William of Rubrouck tells us how he found the influence of a 
Muslim wife an obstacle in the way of his proselytising labours : *' On the day of 
Pentecost, a Saracen came to talk with us and we expounded to him our faith. 
After hearing of the benefits that accrued to men from faith in the Incarnation, 
the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, and absolution from sin by 
baptism, he said that he wished to be baptised, but when we were getting ready 
to administer to him the sacrament of baptism, he suddenly leapt on his horse 
saying that he would go home to consult his wife. The next morning he came 
back, saying that for nothing in the world would he dare accept baptism, as he 
would no longer be allowed to drink mare's milk." (Guillaume de Rubrouck, 

P- 5i-) 

2 Ibn Batutah, vol. ii. p. 57. 

3 Abu-1 Ghazi, tome ii. p. 159. 4 Ibn Batutah, tome iii. p. 47. 


Jamalu-d Din. This ShayJdi in company with a number of travel- 
lers had unwittingly trespassed on the game-preserves of the prince, 
who ordered them to be bound hand and foot and brought before 
him. In reply to his angry question, how they had dared interfere 
with his hunting, the Shayfch pleaded that they were strangers 
and were quite unaware that they were trespassing on forbidden 
ground. Learning that they were Persians, the prince said that 
a dog was worth more than a Persian. " Yes, " replied the 
Shayldl, " if we had not the true faith, we should indeed be worse 
than the dogs." Struck with his reply, the Khan ordered this 
bold Persian to be brought before him on his return from hunting, 
and taking him aside asked him to explain what he meant by 
these words and what was ' faith.' The Shayjdi then set before 
him the glorious doctrines of Islam with such fervour and zeal 
that the heart of the Khan that before had been hard as a stone 
was melted like wax, and so terrible a picture did the holy man 
draw cf the state of unbelief, that the prince was convinced of the 
blindness of his own errors, but said, M Were I now to make pro- 
fession of the faith of Islam, I should not be able to lead my 
subjects into the true path. But bear with me a little ; and when 

I have entered into the possession of the kingdom of my fore- 
fathers, come to me again." For the empire of Jagatay had by 
this time been broken up into a number of petty princedoms, and 
it was many years before Tuqluq Timur succeeded in uniting 
under his sway the whole empire as before. Meanwhile Shayldl 
Jamalu-d Din had returned to his home, where he fell dangerously 
ill : when at the point of death, he said to his son Rashidu-d Din, 

II Tuqluq Timur will one day become a great monarch ; fail not to 
go and salute him in my name and fearlessly remind him of the 
promise he made me. " Some years later, when Tuqluq Timur 
had re-won the empire of his fathers, Rashidu-d Din made his way 
to the camp of the Khan to fulfil the last wishes of his father, but 
in spite of all his efforts he could not gain an audience of the 
Khan. At length he devised the following expedient : one day in 
the early morning, he began to chant the call to prayers, close to 
the Khan's tent. Enraged at having his slumbers disturbed in 
this way, the prince ordered him to be brought into his presence, 
whereupon Rashidu-d Din delivered his father's message. Tuqluq 
IQian was not unmindful of his promise, and repeating the pro- 
fession of faith, declared himself a Muslim, and afterwards used 


his influence to spread Islam among his people. From that time 
forth Islam became the established faith in the countries under the 
rule of the descendants of Jagatay. 1 

Let us now return to the history of Islam in the Golden Horde. 
The chief camping ground of this section of the Mongols was the 
grassy plain watered by the Volga, on the bank of which, they 
founded their capital city Serai, whither the Russian princes sent 
their tribute to the Khan. The conversion of Baraka Ehan, of 
which mention has been made above, and the close intercourse 
with Egypt that subsequently sprang up, contributed considerably 
to the progress of Islam, and his example seems to have been 
gradually followed by those of the aristocracy and leaders of the 
Golden Horde that were of Mongol descent. But many tribes of 
the Golden Horde appear to have resented the introduction of 
Islam into their midst, and when the conversion of Baraka Khan 
was openly proclaimed, they sent to offer the crown, of which 
they considered him now unworthy, to his rival Hulagu. Indeed 
so strong was this opposition, that it seems to have largely 
contributed to the formation of the Nogais as a separate tribe. 
They took their name from Nogay, who was the chief commander 
of the Mongol forces under Baraka Khan. When the other 
princes of the Golden Horde became Musalmans, Nogay remained 
a Shamanist and thus became a rallying point for those who 
refused to abandon the old religion of the Mongols. His daughter, 
however, who was married to a Shamanist, became converted to 
Islam some time after her marriage and had to endure the ill- 
treatment and contempt of her husband in consequence. 2 

To Uzbeg Khan, who was leader of the Golden Horde from 
1 31 3 to 1340, and who distinguished himself by his proselytising 
zeal, it was said, "Content yourself with our obedience, what 
matters our religion to you ? Why should we abandon the faith 
of Jingis Khan for that of the Arabs ? " But in spite of the strong 
opposition to his efforts, Uzbeg Khan succeeded in winning many 
converts to the faith of which he was so ardent a follower and 
which owed to his efforts its firm establishment in the country 
under his sway. 3 A further sign of his influence is found in the 
tribes of the Uzbegs of Central Asia, who take their name from 
him and were probably converted during his reign. He is said to 

Abu-1 QhazI, tome ii. pp. 166-8. 2 Howorth, vol. ii. p. 1015. 

3 Abu-1 GiazT, tome ii. p. 184. 


have formed the design of spreading the faith of Islam throughout 
the whole of Russia, 1 but here he met with no success. Indeed 
though the Mongols were paramount in Russia for two centuries, 
they appear to have exercised very little influence on the people 
of that country, and least of all in the matter of religion. It is 
noticeable moreover that in spite of his zeal for the spread of his 
own faith, Uzbeg Khan was very tolerant towards his Christian 
subjects, who were left undisturbed in the exercise of their 
religion and even allowed to pursue their missionary labours in 
his territory. One of the most remarkable documents of Muham- 
madan toleration is the charter that "Qzbeg Khan granted to the 
Metropolitan Peter in 131 3 : "By the will and power, the great- 
ness and mercy of the most High ! "Ozbeg to all our princes, great 
and small, etc., etc. Let no man insult the metropolitan church 
of which Peter is the head, or his servants or his churchmen ; 
let no man seize their property, goods or people, let no man 
meddle with the affairs of the metropolitan church, since they are 
divine. Whoever shall meddle therein and transgress our edict, 
will be guilty before God and feel His wrath and be punished by 
us with death. Let the metropolitan dwell in the path of safety 
and rejoice, with a just and upright heart let him (or his deputy) 
decide and regulate all ecclesiastical matters. We solemnly 
declare that neither we nor our children nor the princes of our 
realm nor the governors of our provinces will in any way interfere 
with the affairs of the church and the metropolitan, or in their 
towns, districts, villages, chases and fisheries, their hives, lands, 
meadows, forests, towns and places under their bailiffs, their 
vineyards, mills, winter quarters for cattle, or any of the 
properties and goods of the church. Let the mind of the 
metropolitan be always at peace and free from trouble, with, 
uprightness of heart let him pray to God for us, our children 
and our nation. Whoever shall lay hands on anything that is 
sacred, shall be held guilty, he shall incur the wrath of God and 
the penalty of death, that others may be dismayed at his fate. 
When the tribute or other dues, such as custom duties, plough- 
tax, tolls or relays are levied, or when we wish to raise troops 
among our subjects, let nothing be exacted from the cathedral 
churches under the metropolitan Peter, or from any of his clergy: 

1 De Guignes, vol. iii. p. 351. 


.... whatever may be exacted from the clergy, shall be returned 
threefold. . . . Their laws, their churches, their monasteries 
and chapels shall be respected ; whoever condemns or blames 
this religion, shall not be allowed to excuse himself under any 
pretext, but shall be punished with death. The brothers and 
sons of priests and deacons, living at the same table and in the 
same house, shall enjoy the same privileges." * 

That these were no empty words and that the toleration here 
promised became a reality, may be judged from a letter sent to the 
K&an by Pope John XXII. in 131 8, in which he thanks the Muslim 
prince for the favour he showed to his Christian subjects and the 
kind treatment they received at his hands. 2 The successors of 
Uzbeg Khan do not appear to have been animated by the same 
zeal for the spread of Islam as he had shown, and could not be 
expected to succeed where he failed. So long as the Russians 
paid their taxes, they were left free to worship according to their 
own desires, and the Christian religion had become too closely 
intertwined with the life of the people to be disturbed, even had 
efforts been made to turn them from the faith of their fathers ; 
for Christianity had been the national religion of the Russian 
people for well nigh three centuries before the Mongols settled 
down on the banks of the Volga. 

Another race many years before had tried to win the Russians 
to Islam but had likewise failed, viz. the Muslim Bulgarians who 
were found in the tenth century on the banks of the Volga, and 
who probably owed their conversion to the Muslim merchants, 
trading in furs and other commodities of the North ; some time 
before a.d. 921, when the Caliph Al Muqtadir sent an envoy to 
confirm them in the faith and instruct them in the tenets and 
ordinances of Islam. 3 

These Bulgarians attempted the conversion of Vladimir, the 
then sovereign of Russia, who (the Russian chronicler tells us) 
had found it necessary to choose some religion better than his 
pagan creed, but they failed to overcome his objections to the 
rite of circumcision and to the prohibition of wine, the use of 
which, he declared, the Russians could never give up, as it was 

1 Karamzin, vol. iv. pp. 391-4. 

3 Hammer-Purgstall : Geschichte der Goldenen Horde in Kiptschak, p. 290. 

3 De Baschkiris quae memoriae prodita sunt ab Ibn-Foszlano et Jakuto, 
interprete C. N. Fraehnio. (Memoires de 1'Academie imperiale des Sciences de 
St. Petersbourg, tome viii. p. 626) (1822.) 


the very joy of their life. Equally unsuccessful were the Jews 
who came from the country of the Kljazars on the Caspian Sea 
and who had won over the king of that people to the Mosaic 
faith. 1 After listening to their arguments, Vladimir asked them 
where their country was. " Jerusalem," they replied, " but God 
in His anger has scattered us over the whole world." " Then 
you are cursed of God," cried the king, " and yet want to teach 
others : begone ! we have no wish, like you, to be without a 
country." The most favourable impression was made by a Greek 
priest who after a brief criticism of the other religions, set forth 
the whole scheme of Christian teaching beginning with the 
creation of the world and the story of the fall of man and ending 
with the seven oecumenical councils accepted by the Greek 
church ; then he showed the prince a picture of the Last 
Judgment with the righteous entering paradise and the wicked 
being thrust down into hell, and promised him the heritage of 
heaven, if he would be baptised. 

But Vladimir was unwilling to make a rash choice of a substi- 
tute for his pagan religion, so he called his boyards together and 
having told them of the accounts he had received of the various 
religions, asked them for their advice. " Prince," they replied, 
u every man praises his own religion, and if you would make 
choice of the best, send wise men into the different countries to 
discover which of all the nations honours God in the manner 
most worthy of Him." So the prince chose out for this purpose 
ten men who were eminent for their wisdom. These ambassadors 
found among the Bulgarians mean looking places of worship, 
gloomy prayers and solemn faces ; among the German Catholics 
religious ceremonies that lacked both grandeur and magnificence. 
At length they reached Constantinople : u Let them see the 
glory of our God," said the emperor. So they were taken to the 
church of Santa Sophia, where the Patriarch, clad in his pontifical 
robes, was celebrating mass. The magnificence of the building, 
the rich vestments of the priests, the ornaments of the altars, the 
sweet odour of the incense, the reverent silence of the people, and 
the mysterious solemnity of the ceremonial filled the savage 
Russians with wonder and amazement. It seemed to them that 
this church must be the dwelling of the Most High, and that He 

1 Abu'Ubaydu-1 Bakrf, pp. 470-1. 


manifested His glory therein to mortals. On their return to Kief, 
the ambassadors gave the prince an account of their mission : 
they spoke with contempt of the religion of the Prophet and had 
little to say for the Roman Catholic faith, but were enthusiastic 
in their eulogies of the Greek Church. "Every man," they 
said, " who has put his lips to a sweet draught, henceforth 
abhors anything bitter ; wherefore we having come to the 
knowledge of the faith of the Greek Church desire none other." 
Vladimir once more consulted his boyards, who said unto him, 
u Had not the Greek faith been best of all, Olga, your grand- 
mother, the wisest of mortals, would never have embraced it." 
Whereupon Vladimir hesitated no longer and in 988 a.d. 
declared himself a Christian. On the day after his baptism he 
threw down the idols his forefathers had worshipped and issued 
an edict that all the Russians, masters and slaves, rich and poor, 
should submit to be baptised into the Christian faith. 1 

Thus Christianity became the national religion of the Russian 
people, and after the Mongol conquest, the distinctive national 
characteristics of Russians and Tartars that have kept the two 
races apart to the present day, the bitter hatred of the Tartar 
yoke, the devotion of the Russians to their own faith and the 
want of religious zeal on the part of the Tartars, kept the 
conquered race from adopting the religion of the conqueror. 
Especially has the prohibition of spirituous liquors by the laws of 
Islam, been supposed to have stood in the way of the adoption of 
this religion by the Russian people. 

Not that the Mongols in Russia have been wholly inoperative 
in promoting the spread of Islam. The distinctly Hellenic type 
of face that is to be found among the so-called Tartars of the 
Crimea has led to the conjecture that these Muhammadans have 
absorbed into their community the Greek and Italian populations 
that they found settled on the Crimean peninsula, and that we 
find among them the Muhammadanised descendants of the in- 
digenous inhabitants, and of the Genoese colonists. 2 A traveller 
of the seventeenth century tells us that the Tartars of the Crimea 
tried to induce their slaves to become Muhammadans, and won 
over many of them to this faith by promising them their liberty 
if they would be persuaded. 3 

1 Karamsin, tome i. pp. 259-271. 3 Reclus, tome v. p. 831. 

3 Relation des Tartares, par Jean de Luca, p. 17 (Thevenot, tome i.). 


The Finns of the Volga have also been among the converts 
that the Tartars have won over to Islam, e.g. while many of the 
Tcheremiss are nominally Christians and are becoming Russian- 
ised, whole villages of them have on the other hand embraced 
Islam. The Tchuvash, who live more to the south and belong to 
the same family, have likewise become Muhammadans, as probably 
the whole of the Finnish population of this part of the country 
would have done ere now if the Christian and Muslim religions 
were allowed equal rights by the Russian government. 1 

One of the most curious incidents in the missionary history of 
Islam is the conversion of the Kirghiz of Central Asia by Tartar 
mullas, who preached Islam among them in the eighteenth 
century, as emissaries of the Russian government. The Kirghiz 
began to become Russian subjects about 1731, and for 120 years all 
diplomatic correspondence was carried on with them in the Tartar 
language under the delusion that they were ethnographically the 
same as the Tartars of the Volga. Another misunderstanding 
on the part of the Russian government was that the Kirghiz 
were Musalmans, whereas in the last century they were nearly 
all Shamanists, as a large number of them are still to the present 
day. At the time of the annexation of their country to the 
Russian empire only a few of their Khans and Sultans had any 
knowledge of the faith of Islam and that very confused and 
vague. Not a single mosque was to be found throughout the 
whole of the Kirghiz Steppes, or a single religious teacher of the 
faith of the Prophet, and the Kirghiz owed their conversion to 
Islam to the fact that the Russians, taking them for Muham- 
madans, insisted on treating them as such. Large sums of money 
were given for the building of mosques, and mullas were sent to 
open schools and instruct the young in the tenets of the Muslim 
faith : the Kirghiz scholars were to receive every day a small sum 
to support themselves on, and the fathers were to be induced to 
send their children to the schools by presents and other means of 
persuasion. An incontrovertible proof that the Musalman pro- 
paganda made its way into the Kirghiz Steppes from the side of 
Russia, is the circumstance that it is especially those Kirghiz who 
are more contiguous to Europe that have become Musalmans, 
while the further east we go, the weaker we find their faith to be, 
and even to the present day the old Shamanism lingers among 
1 Reclus, tome v. pp. 746, 748. 



those who wander in the neghbourhood of Khiva, Bufcfeara and 
Khokand, though these for centuries have been Muhammadan 
countries. 1 This is probably the only instance of a Christian 
government co-operating in the promulgation of Islam, and is 
the more remarkable inasmuch as the Russian government of this 
period was attempting to force Christianity on its Muslim subjects 
in Europe, in continuation of the efforts made in the sixteenth 
century soon after the conquest of the Khanate of Kazan. The 
labours of the clergy were actively seconded by the police and the 
civil authorities, but though a certain number of Tartars were 
baptised, it had to be admitted that the new converts " shame- 
lessly retain many horrid Tartar customs, and neither hold nor 
know the Christian faith." When spiritual exhortations failed, 
the Government ordered its officials to " pacify, imprison, put in 
irons, and thereby unteach and frighten from the Tartar faith 
those who, though baptised, do not obey the admonitions of the 
Metropolitan." These more violent methods proving equally 
ineffectual, Catherine II. in 1778 ordered that all the new converts 
should sign a written promise to the effect that "they would 
completely forsake their infidel errors, and, avoiding all inter- 
course with unbelievers, would hold firmly and unwaveringly the 
Christian faith and its dogmas." But in spite of all, these so- 
called " baptised Tartars " are even to the present day as far from 
being Christians as they were in the sixteenth century. They 
may, indeed, be inscribed in the official registers as Christians, 
but they resolutely stand out against any efforts that may be 
made to Christianise them. In a semi-official article, published 
in 1872, the writer says : "It is a fact worthy of attention that a 
long series of evident apostacies coincides with the beginning of 
measures to confirm the converts in the Christian faith. There 
must be, therefore, some collateral cause producing those cases of 
apostacy precisely at the moment when the contrary might be 
expected." The fact seems to be that these Tartars having all 
the time remained Muhammadan at heart, have resisted the 
active measures taken to make their nominal profession of Chris- 
tianity in any way a reality. 2 The Russian government of the 

1 The Russian Policy regarding Central Asia. An historical sketch. By 
Professor V. Grigorief. (Eugene Schuyler : Turkistan, vol. ii. pp. 405-6.) 
(5th ed. London, 1876.) 

2 D. Mackenzie Wallace: Russia, vol. i. pp. 242-244. (London, 1877, 
4th ed.) 


present day is still attempting the conversion of its Tartar subjects 
by means of the schools it has established in their midst. In this 
way it hopes to win the younger generation, since otherwise it 
seems impossible to gain an entrance for Christianity among the 
Tartars, for, as a Russian professor has said, " The citizens of Kazan 
are hard to win, but we get some little folk from the villages on 
the steppe, and train them in the fear of God. Once they are 
with us they can never turn back." 1 For the criminal code 
contains severe enactments against those who fall away from the 
Orthodox church, 3 and sentences any person convicted of con- 
verting a Christian to Islam to the loss of all civil rights and to 
imprisonment with hard labour for a term varying from eight to ten 
years. In spite, however, of the edicts of the government, Muslim 
propagandism succeeds in winning over whole villages to the 
faith of Islam, especially among the tribes of north-eastern 
Russia. 8 

Of the spread of Islam among the Tartars of Siberia, we have 
a few particulars. It was not until the latter half of the sixteenth 
century that it gained a footing in this country, but even before 
this period Muhammadan missionaries had from time to time 
made their way into Siberia with the hope of winning the 
heathen population over to the acceptance of their faith, but the 
majority of them met with a martyr's death. When Siberia 
came under Muhammadan rule, in the reign of Kuchum Khan r 
the graves of seven of these missionaries were discovered by an 
aged Shay]r who came from Bukhara to search them out, being 
anxious that some memorial should be kept of the devotion of 
these martyrs to the faith : he was able to give the names of this 
number, and up to the last century their memory was still revered 
by the Tartars of Siberia. 4 When Kuchum Khan (who was 
descended from Juji Khan, the eldest son of Jingis Khan) became 
Khan of Siberia (about the year 1570), either by right of conquest 
or (according to another account) at the invitation of the people 

1 W. Hepworth Dixon : Free Russia, vol. ii. p. 284. (London, 1870.) 

2 E.g. "En 1883, des paysans Tatars du village d'Apozof etaient poursuivis, 
devant le tribunal de Kazan, pour avoir abandonne" l'orthodoxie. Les accuses 
declaraient avoir toujours 6t6 musalmans ; sept d' entre eux n'en furent pas moins 
condamnes, comme apostats, aux travaux forces. . . . Beaucoup de ces relaps 
ont cte deportes en SiWrie." Anatole Leroy Bcaulieu : L'Empire des Tsars et 
les Russes, tome iii. p. 645. (Paris, 1889-93.) 

a D. Mackenzie Wallace : Russia, vol. i. p. 245. 

4 G. F. Miiller : Sammlung Russischer Geschichte, vol. vii. p. 191. 


whose Khan had died without issue, 1 he made every effort for the 
conversion of his subjects, and sent to Bukhara asking for 
missionaries to assist him in this pious undertaking. One of the 
missionaries who was sent from Bukhara has left us an account of 
how he set out with a companion to the capital of Kuchum Khan, 
on the bank of the Irtish. Here, after two years, his companion 
died, and, for some reasons that the writer does not mention, he 
went back again ; but soon afterwards returned to the scene of 
his labours, bringing with him another coadjutor, when Kuchum 
Khan had appealed for help once more to Bukhara. 2 Missionaries 
also came to Siberia from Kazan. But the advancing tide of 
Russian conquest soon brought the proselytising efforts of 
Kuchum Khan to an end before much had been accomplished, 
especially as many of the tribes under his rule offered a strong 
opposition to all attempts made to convert them. 

But though interrupted by the Russian conquest, the progress 
of Islam was by no means stopped. Mullas from Bu^ara and 
other cities of Central Asia and merchants from Kazan were 
continually active as missionaries of Islam in Siberia. In 1 745 an 
entrance was first effected among the Baraba Tartars (between 
the Irtish and the Ob), and though at the beginning of this, 
century many were still heathen, they have now all become 
Musalmans. 3 The conversion of the Kirghiz has already been 
spoken of above : the history of most of the other Muslim tribes, 
of Siberia is very obscure, but their conversion is probably of a 
recent date. Among the instruments of Muhammadan propa- 
ganda at the present time, it is interesting to note the large place 
taken by the folk-songs of the Kirghiz, in which, interwoven with 
tale and legend, the main truths of Islam make their way into 
the hearts of the common people. 4 

1 G. F. Miiller : Sammlung Russischer Geschichte, vol. vii. pp. 183-4. 

2 Radloff, vol. i. p. 147. 

3 Jadrinzew, p. 138. Radloff, vol. i. p. 241. 

4 Radloff, vol. i. pp. 472, 497. 



The Muhammadan invasions of India and the foundation and 
growth of the Muhammadan power in that country, have found 
many historians, both among contemporary and later writers. 
But hitherto no one has attempted to write a history of the 
spread of Islam in India, considered apart from the military 
successes and administrative achievements of its adherents. 
Indeed, to many, such a task must appear impossible. For India 
has often been picked out as a typical instance of a country in 
which Islam owes its existence and continuance in existence to 
the settlement in it of foreign, conquering Muhammadan races, 
who have transmitted their faith to their descendants, and only 
succeeded in spreading it beyond their own circle by means of 
persecution and forced conversions. Thus the missionary spirit 
of Islam is supposed to show itself in its true light in the brutal 
massacres of Brahmans by Mahmud of Ghazna, in the persecutions 
of Aurangzeb, the forcible circumcisions effected by Haydar 'Ali, 
Tipu Sultan and the like. 

But among the fifty-seven millions of Indian Musalmans there 
are vast numbers of converts or descendants of converts, in whose 
conversion force played no part and the only influences at work 
were the teaching and persuasion Jof peaceful missionaries. This 
class of converts forms a very distinct group by itself which can 
be distinguished from that of the forcibly converted and the 
other heterogeneous elements of which Muslim India is made up. 
The entire community may be roughly divided into those of 
foreign race who brought their faith into the country along 
with them, and those who have been converted from one of the 
previous religions of the country under various inducements and 
at many different periods of history. The foreign settlement 


consists of three main bodies : first, and numerically the most 
important, are the immigrants from across the north-west frontier, 
who are found chiefly in Sind and the Panjab ; next come the 
-descendants of the court and armies of the various Muhammadan 
dynasties, mainly in Upper India and to a much smaller extent 
in the Deccan ; lastly, all along the west coast are settlements 
probably of Arab descent, whose original founders came to India 
by sea. 1 But the number of families of foreign origin that 
actually settled in India is nowhere great except in the Panjab 
and its neighbourhood. More than naif the Muslim population 
of India has indeed assumed appellations of distinctly foreign 
races, such as Shaykh, Beg, Khan, and even Sayyid, but the 
.greater portion of them are local converts or descendants of 
converts, who have taken the title of the person of highest rank 
amongst those by whom they were converted or have affiliated 
themselves to the aristocracy of Islam on even less plausible 
grounds. 2 Of the other section of the community the converted 
natives of the country part no doubt owed their change of 
religion to force and official pressure, but by far the majority of 
them entered the pale of Islam of their own free-will. The 
history of the proselytising movements and social influences that 
brought about their conversion has hitherto received very little 
attention, and most of the commonly accessible histories of the 
Muhammadans in India, whether written by European or by 
native authors, are mere chronicles of wars, campaigns and the 
achievements of princes, in which little mention of the religious 
life of the time finds a place, unless it has taken the form of 
fanaticism or intolerance. From the biographies of the Muslim 
saints, however, and from local traditions, something may be 
learned of the missionary work that was carried on quite inde- 
pendently of the political life of the country. But before dealing 
with these it is proposed to give an account of the official pro- 
pagation of Islam and of the part played by the Muhammadan 
rulers in the spread of their faith. 

From the fifteenth year after the death of the Prophet, when 
an Arab expedition -was sent into Sind, up to the eighteenth 
century, a series of Muhammadan invaders, some founders of 

1 Census of India, 1 89 1. General Report by J. A. Baines, p. 167. (London, 

2 Id., pp. 126, 207. 



great empires, others mere adventurers, poured into India from 
the north-west. While some came only to plunder and retired 
laden with spoils, others remained to found kingdoms that have 
had a lasting influence to the present day. But of none of these 
do we learn that they were accompanied by any missionaries or 
preachers. Not that they were indifferent to their religion. To 
many of them, their invasion of India appeared in the light of a 
holy war. Such was evidently the thought in the minds of 
Mahmiid of Grhazna and Timur. The latter, after his capture of 
Dehli, writes as follows in his autobiography : " I had been at 
Dehli fifteen days, which time I passed in pleasure and enjoy- 
ment, holding royal Courts and giving great feasts. I then 
reflected that I had come to Hindustan to war against infidels, 
and my enterprise had been so blessed that wherever I had gone 
I had been victorious. I had triumphed over my adversaries, I 
had put to death some lacs of infidels and idolaters, and I had 
stained my proselyting sword with the blood of the enemies of 
the faith. Now this crowning victory had been won, and I felt 
that I ought not to indulge in ease, but rather to exert myself in 
warring against the infidels of Hindustan." 1 Though he speaks 
much of his "proselyting sword," it seems however to have 
served no other purpose than that of sending infidels to hell. 
Most of the Muslim invaders seem to have acted in a very similar 
way ; in the name of Allah, idols were thrown down, their priests 
put to the sword, and their temples destroyed ; while mosques 
were often erected in their place. It is true that the offer of 
Islam was generally made to the unbelieving Hindus before any 
attack was made upon them. 3 Fear occasionally dictated a timely 
acceptance of such offers and led to conversions which, in the 
earlier days of the Muhammadan invasion at least, were generally 
short-lived and ceased to be effective after the retreat of the 
invader. An illustration in point is furnished by the story of 
Hardatta, a ra'is of Bulandshahr, whose submission to Mahmud 
of Ghazna is thus related in the history of that conqueror's cam- 

1 Elliot, vol. ii. p. 448. 

2 The princes of India were invited to embrace Islam before the first century 
of the Hijrah had expired, by the Caliph 'Umar ibn 'Abdi-1'AzIz. (Elliot, 
vol. i. p. 124.) Muhammad Qasim made a similar offer when he invaded Sind 
(Id., p. 175, 207, where a letter is said to have been sent from the Caliph to the 
Chief of Kanauj), and the invaders who followed him were probably equally 
observant of the religious law. 


paigns written by his secretary. "At length (about 1019 a.d.) 
he (i.e. Mahmud) arrived at the fort of Barba, 1 in the country of 
Hardat, who was one of the ra'is, that is " kings," in the Hindi 
language. When Hardat heard of this invasion by the protected 
warriors of God, who advanced like the waves of the sea, with 
the angels around them on all sides, he became greatly agitated, 
his steps trembled, and he feared for his life, which was forfeited 
under the law of God. So he reflected that his safety would 
best be secured by conforming to the religion of Islam, since 
God's sword was drawn from the scabbard, and the whip of 
punishment was uplifted. He came forth, therefore, with ten 
thousand men, who all proclaimed their anxiety for conversion 
and their rejection of idols." 2 

These new converts probably took the earliest opportunity of 
apostatising presented to them by the retreat of the conqueror 
a kind of action which we find the early Muhammadan historians 
of India continually complaining of. For when Qutbu-d Din 
attacked Baran in 1 193, he was stoutly opposed by Chandrasen, 
the then Raja, who was a lineal descendant of Hardatta and 
whose very name betrays his Hindu faith : nor do we hear of 
there being any Musalmans remaining under his rule. 8 

But these conquerors would appear to have had very little of 
that u love for souls " which animates the true missionary and I 
which has achieved such great conquests for Islam. The Khaljis ' 
(1290-1320), the Tughlaqs (1320-1412), and theLodis (1451-1526) 
were generally too busily engaged in fighting, to pay much 
regard to the interests of religion, or else thought more of the 
exaction of tribute than of the work of conversion. 4 Not that 
they were entirely lacking in religious zeal : e.g. the Ghakkars, 

1 Or Baran, the old name of Bulandshahr. 2 Elliot, vol. ii. pp. 42-3. 

3 Gazetteer of the N. W.P., vol. iii. part ii. p. 85. 

4 " The military adventurers, who founded dynasties in Northern India and 
carved out kingdoms in the Dekhan, cared little for things spiritual ; most of 
them had indeed no time for proselytism, being continually engaged in conquest 
or in civil war. They were usually rough Tartars or Moghals ; themselves ill- 
grounded in the faith of Mahomed, and untouched by the true Semitic enthusiasm 
which inspired the first Arab standard bearers of Islam. The empire which they 
set up was purely military, and it was kept in that state by the half success of 
their conquests and the comparative failure of their spiritual invasion. They 
were strong enough to prevent anything like religious amalgamation among the 
Hindus, and to check the gathering of tribes into nations ; but so far were they 
from converting India, that among the Mahomedans themselves their own faith 
never acquired an entire and exclusive monopoly of the high offices of adminis- 
tration." Sir Alfred C. Lyall: Asiatic Studies, p. 289. (London, 1882.) 

P 2 



a barbarous people in the mountainous districts of the North of 
the Panjab, who gave the early invaders much trouble, are said 
to have been converted through the influence of Muhammad 
Ghori at the end of the twelfth century. Their chieftain had been 
taken prisoner by the Muhammadan monarch, who induced him 
to become a Musalman, and then confirming him in his title of 
chief of this tribe, sent him back to convert his followers, many 
of whom having little religion of their own were easily prevailed 
upon to embrace Islam. 1 According to Ibn Batutah, the Khaljis 
offered some encouragement to conversion by making it a custom 
to have the new convert presented to the sultan, who clad him 
in a robe of honour and gave him a collar and bracelets of gold, 
of a value proportionate to his rank. 2 But the monarchs of the 
earlier Muhammadan dynasties as a rule evinced very little 
proselytising zeal, and it would be hard to find a parallel in their 
history to the following passage from the autobiography of Firiiz 
Shah Tughlaq (1351-88) : "I encouraged my infidel subjects to 
embrace the religion of the Prophet, and I proclaimed that every 
one who repeated the creed and became a Musalman should be 
exempt from the jizyah, or poll tax. Information of this came to the 
ears of the people at large and great numbers of Hindus presented 
themselves, and were admitted to the honour of Islam. Thus 
they came forward day by day from every quarter, and, adopting 
the faith, were exonerated from the jizyah, and were favoured 
with presents and honours." 3 
I As the Muhammadan power became consolidated, and par- 
. ticularly under the Mughal dynasty, the religious influences of 
! Islam naturally became more permanent and persistent. A 
powerful incentive to conversion was offered, when adherence to 
an idolatrous system stood in the way of advancement at the 
Muhammadan courts ; and though a spirit of tolerance, which 
reached its culmination under the eclectic Akbar, was very often 
shown towards Hinduism, and respected even, for the most part, 
j the state endowments of that religion 4 ; and though the dread of 
unpopularity and the desire of conciliation dictated a policy of 
non-interference and deprecated such deeds of violence and such 

1 Firishtah, vol. i. p. 184. 2 Ibn Batutah. Tome iii. p. 197. 

Elliot, vol. iii. p. 386. 

4 Sir Richard Temple : India in 1880, p. 164. (London, 1881.) Even grants 
of land from Muhammadan princes to Hindu temples, though very rare, are not 
unknown. Yule's Marco Polo, vol. ii. p. 310. 


outbursts of fanaticism as characterised the earlier period of 
invasion and triumph, still such motives of self-interest gained 
many converts from Hinduism to the Muhammadan faith. Many 
Rajputs became converts in this way, and their descendants are 
to this day to be found among the landed aristocracy. The 
most important perhaps among these is the Musalman branch of 
the great Bachgoti clan, the head of which is the premier 
Muhammadan noble of Oudh. According to one tradition, their 
ancestor Tilok Chand was taken prisoner by the Emperor Babar 
and to regain his liberty adopted the faith of Islam 1 ; but another 
legend places his conversion in the reign of Humayun. This 
prince having heard of the marvellous beauty of Tilok Chand's 
wife, had her carried off while she was at a fair. No sooner, 
however, was she brought to him than his conscience smote him 
and he sent for her husband. Tilok Chand had despaired of ever 
seeing her again, and in gratitude he and his wife embraced the 
faith " which taught such generous purity." 2 These converted 
Rajputs are very zealous in the practice of their religion, yet often 
betray their Hindu origin in a very striking manner. In the 
district of Bulandshahr, for example, a large Musalman family, 
which is known as the Lalkhani Pathans, still (with some excep- 
tions) retains its old Hindu titles and family customs of marriage, 
while Hindu branches of the same clan still exist side by side with 
it. 3 In the Mirzapur district, the Gaharwar Rajputs, who are now 
Muslim, still retain in all domestic matters Hindu laws and 
customs and prefix a Hindu honorific title to their Muhammadan 
names. 4 

Official pressure is said never to have been more persistently 
brought to bear upon the Hindus than in the reign of Aurangzeb. 
In the eastern districts of the Panjab, there are many cases in which 
the ancestor of the Musalman branch of the village community 

1 Manual of Titles for Oudh, p. 78. (Allahabad, 1889.) 
3 Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh, vol. i. p. 466. 

3 Gazetteer of the N.W.P., vol. iii. part ii. p 46. 

4 Gazetteer of the N.W.P., vol. xiv. part ii. p. 119. In the Cawnpore district, 
the Musalman branch of the Dikhit family observes Muhammadan customs at 
births, marriages, and deaths, and, though they cannot, as a rule, recite the 
prayers (namaz), they perform the orthodox obeisances (sijdah). But at the 
same time they worship Chachak Devi to avert small-pox, and keep up their 
friendly intercourse with their old caste brethren, the Thakurs, in domestic 
occurrences, and are generally called by common Hindu names. (Gazetteer of the 
N. W.P., vol. vi. p. 64.) 


is said to have changed his religion in the reign of this zealot, 
" in order to save the land of the village." In Gurgaon, near 
Dehli, there is a Hindu family of Banyas who still bear the title 
of Shay fch (which is commonly adopted by converted Hindus), 
because one of the members of the family, whose line is now 
extinct, became a convert in order to save the family property 
from confiscation. 1 Many Rajput landowners, in the Cawnpore 
district, were compelled to embrace Islam for the same reason. 2 
In other cases the ancestor is said to have been carried as a 
prisoner or hostage to Dehli, and there forcibly circumcised and 
converted. 3 It should be noted that the only authority for these 
forced conversions is family or local tradition, and no mention of 
such (as far as I have been able to discover) is made in the 
historical accounts of Aurangzeb's reign. 4 It is established with- 
out doubt that forced conversions have been made by Muham- 
madan rulers, and it seems probable that Aurangzeb's well-known 
zeal on behalf of his faith has caused many families of Northern 
India (the history of whose conversion has been forgotten) to 
attribute their change of faith to this, the most easily assignable 
cause. Similarly in the Deccan, Aurangzeb shares with Haydar 
*Ali and Tipu Sultan (these being the best known of modern 
Muhammadan rulers) the reputation of having forcibly con- 
verted sundry families and sections of the population, whose con- 
version undoubtedly dates from a much earlier period, from which 
no historical record of the circumstances of the case has come 
down.* In an interesting collection of Aurangzeb's orders and 
despatches, as yet unpublished, 8 we find him laying down what 
may be termed the supreme law of toleration for the ruler of 
people of another faith. An attempt had been made to induce 

1 Ibbetson, p. 163. 

1 Gazetteer of the N.W.P., vol. vi. p. 64. Compare also id. vol. xiv. part iii. p. 47. 

"Muhammadan cultivators are not numerous; they are usually Nau- 
Muslims. Most of them assign the date of their conversion to the reign of 
Aurangzeb, and represent it as the result sometimes of persecution and sometimes 
as made to enable them to retain their rights when unable to pay revenue. 

3 Ibbetson, ib. 

4 Indeed Firishtah distinctly says : " Zealous for the faith of Mahommed, he 
rewarded proselytes with a liberal hand, though he did not choose to persecute 
those of different persuasions in matters of religion." (The History of Hindo- 
stan, translated from the Persian, by Alexander Dow, vol. iii. p. 361.) (London, 

6 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xxii. p. 222 ; vol. xxiii p. 282. 
6 For my knowledge of this MS. I am indebted to the kindness of 'Abdu-s 
Salam Khan Sahib, in whose possession it is. 



the emperor to deprive of their posts two non-Muslims, each of 
whom held the office of a pay-master, on the ground that they 
were infidel Parsls, and their place would be more fittingly filled 
by some tried Muslim servant of the crown ; moreover it was 
written in the Qur'an (lx. i.) " O believers, take not my foe and 
your foe for friends." The emperor replied : " Religion has no 
concern with secular business, and in matters of this kind bigotry 
should find no place." He too appeals to the authority of the 
sacred text, which says : " To you your religion, and to me my 
religion " (cix. 6), and points out that if the verse his petitioner 
had quoted were to be taken as an established rule of conduct, 
u then we ought to have destroyed all the Rajas and their sub- 
jects ;" government post sought to be bestowed according to ability 
and from no other considerations. Whether Aurangzeb himself 
always acted on such tolerant principles may indeed be doubted, 
but the frequent accusations brought against him of forcible con- 
version need a more careful sifting than they have hitherto 

How little was effected towards the spread of Islam by violence 
on the part of the Muhammadan rulers, may be judged from the 
fact that even in the centres of the Muhammadan power, such as 
Dehli and Agra, the Muhammadans at the present day, in the 
former district hardly exceed one-tenth, and in the latter they do 
not form one-fourth of the population. 1 A remarkable example 
of the worthlessness of forced conversion is exhibited in the case 
of Bodh Mai, Raja of Majhauli, in the district of Gorakhpur ; he 
was arrested by Akbar in default of revenue, carried to Dehli, and 
there converted to Islam, receiving the name of Muhammad 
Salim. But on his return his wife refused to let him into the 
ancestral castle, and, as apparently she had the sympathy of his 
subjects on her side, she governed his territories during the 
minority of his son Bhawani Mai, so that the Hindu succession 
remained undisturbed. 2 Until recently there were some strange 
survivals of a similarly futile false conversion, noticeable in certain 
customs of a Hindu sect called the Bishnois, the principal tenet 
of whose faith is the renunciation of all Hindu deities, except 
Visnu. They used recently to bury their dead, instead of burn- 

1 Sir W. W Hunter: The Religions of India. {The Times, February 25th, 

2 Gazetteer of the N.W.P., vo). vi. p. 518. 



ing them, to adopt Ghulam Muhammad and other Muhammadan 
names, and use the Muslim form of salutation. They explained 
their adoption of these Muhammadan customs by saying that 
having once slain a Qadi, who had interfered with their rite 
of widow-burning, they had compounded for the offence by 
embracing Islam. They have now, however, renounced these 
practices in favour of Hindu customs. 1 

But though some Muhammadan rulers may have been more 
successful in forcing an acceptance of Islam on certain of their 
Hindu subjects than in the last-mentioned cases, and whatever 
truth there may be in the assertion 2 that " it is impossible even to 
approach the religious side of the Mahomedan position in India 
without surveying first its political aspect," we undoubtedly find 
j that Islam has gained its greatest and most lasting missionary 
V J triumphs in times and places in which its political power has been 
; weakest, as in Southern India and Eastern Bengal. Of such 
missionary movements it is now proposed to essay some account, 
commencing with Southern India and the Deccan, then after 
reviewing the history of Sind, Cutch and Gujarat, passing to 
Bengal, and finally noticing some missionaries whose work lay 
outside the above geographical limits. Of several of the mission- 
aries to be referred to, little is recorded beyond their names and 
the sphere of their labours ; accordingly, in view of the general 
dearth of such missionary annals, any available details have been 
given at length. 

I The first advent of Islam in South India dates as far back as 
the eighth century, when a band of refugees, to whom the 
Mappila trace their descent, came from 'Iraq and settled in the 
country. The trade in spices, ivory, gems, etc., between India 
and Europe, which for many hundred years was conducted by the 
Arabs and Persians, caused a continual stream of Muhammadan 
influence to flow in upon the west coast of Southern India. 
From this constant influx of foreigners there resulted a mixed 
population, half Hindu and half Arab or Persian, in the trading 
centres along the coast. Very friendly relations appear to have 
existed between these Muslim traders and the Hindu rulers who 
extended to them their protection and patronage in consideration 
of the increased commercial activity and consequent prosperity of 

1 Gazetteer of the N.W.P., vol. v. part i. pp. 302-3. 

2 Sir Alfred C. Lyall : Asiatic Studies, p. 236. 



the country, that resulted from their presence in it. 1 No 
obstacles also appear to have been put in the way of the 
work of proselytism, 2 which was carried on with great zeal and 

There is a traditionary account of the propagandist labours of 
a small band of missionaries as early as the second century of the 
Hijrah. A certain Shaykh Sharif Ibn Malik, accompanied by 
his brother Malik Ibn Dinar and his nephew Malik Ibn Habib 
and some other companions, arrived at the city of Cranganore on 
their way to make a pilgrimage to Adam's Peak in Ceylon. The 
king of Malabar hearing of their arrival sent for them, and 
received them with great kindness. " The Shaykh, encouraged 
by the king's condescension, related to him the history of our 
prophet Muhammad (upon whom may the divine favour and 
blessing for ever rest !) explaining also to the monarch the tenets 
of Islam ; whilst, for a confirmation of their truth, he narrated to 
him the miracle of the division of the moon. Now, conviction 
of the Prophet's divine mission, under the blessing of Almighty 
God, having followed this relation, the heart of the king became 

1 See Tohfut-ul-Mujahideen, translated by M. J. Rowlandson. (London, 
I 833-) ' ' Merchants from various parts frequented those ports. The consequence 
was, that new cities sprang up. Now in all these the population became much 
increased, and the number of buildings enlarged, by means of the trade carried on 
by the Mahomedans, towards whom the chieftains of those places abstained from 
all oppression ; and, notwithstanding that these rulers and their troops were all 
pagans, they paid much regard to their prejudices and customs, and avoided any 
act of aggression on the Mahomedans, except on some extraordinary provocation ; 
this amicable footing being the more remarkable from the circumstance 'of the 
Mahomedans not forming a tenth part of the population." (pp. 70-1.) " I 
would have it understood that the Mahomedans of Malabar formerly lived in 
great comfort and tranquility, in consequence of their abstaining from exercising 
any oppression towards the people of the country ; as well as from the considera- 
tion which they invariably evinced for the ancient usages of the population of 
Malabar, and from the unrestricted intercourse of kindness which they preserved 
with them." (p. 103.) " The Mahomedans of Malabar, having no emir amongst 
them possessed of sufficient power and authority to govern them, are consequently 
under the rule of the pagan chieftains, who faithfully guard their interests and 
decide between them, besides granting to them advantageous privileges; and 
should any Mahomedan subject himself to the punishment of fine by them, not- 
withstanding his delinquency, or any other provocation, their treatment to the 
faithful, as a body, continues kind and respectful, because to them they owe the 
increase of towns in their country, these having sprung up from the residence of 
the faithful amongst them.'' (p. 72.) 

2 " The Nairs do not molest their countrymen who have abjured idolatry and 
come over to the Mahomedan religion, nor endeavour to intimidate them by 
threats, but treat them with the same consideration and respect that they evince 
towards all other Mahomedans, although the persons who have thus apostacised 
be of the lowest grade." (id. p. 73.) 


warmed with a holy affection towards Muhammad (on whom be 
peace !), and, in consequence of this his conversion, he with much 
earnestness enjoined the Shaykb, after the completion of his 
pilgrimage to Adam's foot-step, to return with his companions to 
Cranganore, as it was his desire hereafter to unite himself to 
them ; but, in communicating, he forbade the Shay]& to divulge 
this his secret intention to any of the inhabitants of Malabar." 1 
On the return of the pilgrims from Ceylon, the king secretly 
departed with them in a ship bound for the coast of Arabia, 
leaving his kingdom in the hands of viceroys. Here he remained 
for some time, and was just about to return to his own country, 

I with the purpose of erecting mosques and propagating the 
religion of Islam, when he fell sick and died. On his death-bed 
he solemnly enjoined his companions not to abandon their pro- 
posed missionary enterprise in Malabar, and, to assist them in 
their labours, he gave them letters of recommendation to his 

Armed with these, they returned to Cranganore and presented 
the king's letter to his viceroy at that place. " And this chief 
having informed himself of the nature of the instructions con- 
veyed in this mandate, assigned to the bearers of it certain lands 
and gardens, as therein directed ; and upon these being settled 
they erected a mosque, Malik Ibn Dinar resolving to fix himself 
there for life ; but his nephew, Malik Ibn Habib, after a time 
quitted this place for the purpose of building mosques throughout 
Malabar. And with this design he proceeded first to Quilon, 
carrying with him thither all his worldly substance, and also his 
wife and some of his children. And after erecting a mosque in 
that town and settling his wife there, he himself journeyed on to 
Hubaee Murawee, and from thence to Bangore, Mangalore, and 
Kanjercote, at all which places he built mosques ; after accom- 
plishing which he returned to Hubaee Murawee, where he stayed 
for three months. And from this town he went to Zaraftan, and 
Durmuftun, and Fundreeah, and Shaleeat ; in all of these towns 
also raising mosques, remaining five months at the last place, and 
from thence returning to his uncle Malik Ibn Dinar at Cranga- 
nore. Here, however, he stayed but a short period, soon again 
setting out for the mosques that he had erected at the above- 

1 Tohfut-ul-Mujahidecn, pp. 49-50. 


mentioned towns, for the purpose of consecrating and endowing 
them ; and after doing this he once more bent his steps towards 
Cranganore, his heart being full of gratitude towards God, because 
of the dawning of the light of Islamism on a land which teemed 
with idolatry. Moreover, Malik Ibn Dinar and Malik Ibn Habib, 
with their associates and dependents, afterwards removed to 
Quilon, where the latter and his people remained. But Ibn 
Dinar, with certain of his companions, sailing from thence for the 
coast of Arabia, on their arrival there proceeded to visit the tomb 
of the deceased king. Subsequently, Malik, travelling on to 
Khurasan, there resigned his breath. As for Ibn Habib, after 
settling some of his children in Quilon, he returned with his wife 
to Cranganore, where they both exchanged this life for a 
better." ? 

Whether or not there be any historical foundation for the 
above story, there can be no doubt of the peaceful proselytising 
influences at work on the Malabar coast for centuries. At the 
beginning of the sixteenth century the Mappila were estimated 
to have formed one-fifth of the population of Malabar, spoke 
the same language as the Hindus, and were only distinguished 
from them by their long beards and peculiar head-dress. But for 
the arrival of the Portuguese, the whole of this coast would have 
became Muhammadan, because of the frequent conversions that 
took place and the powerful influence exercised by the Muslim 
merchants from other parts of India, such as Gujarat and the 
Deccan, and from Arabia and Persia. 2 The history of Islam in 
Southern India by no means always continued to be of so 
peaceful a character, but it does not appear that the forcible con- 
versions of the Hindus and others to Islam which were per- ' 

1 Tohfut-ul-Mujahideen, pp. 53-5. 

2 Odoardo Barbosa, p. 310. 

Similarly it has been conjectured that but for the arrival of the Portuguese, 
Ceylon might have become a Muhammadan kingdom. For before the Portuguese 
armaments appeared in the Indian seas, the Arab merchants were undisputed 
masters of the trade of this island (where indeed they had formed commercial 
establishments centuries before the birth of the Prophet), and were to be found in 
every sea- port and city, while the facilities of commerce attracted large numbers 
of fresh arrivals from their settlements in Malabar. Here as elsewhere the 
Muslim traders intermarried with the natives of the country and spread their 
religion along the coast. But no very active proselytising movement would seem 
to have been carried on, or else the Singhalese showed themselves unwilling to 
embrace Islam, as the Muhammadans of Ceylon at the present day appear mostly 
to be of Arab descent. 

(Sir James Emerson Tennent : Ceylon, vol. i. pp. 631-3. (5th ed., London, i860). 



i petrated when the Muhammadan power became paramount 
under Haydar 'All (1767-1782) and Tipu Sultan (1782-1799), can 
be paralleled in the earlier history of this part of India. However 
this may be, there is no reason to doubt that constant conversions 
by peaceful methods were made to Islam from among the lower 
castes, 1 as is the case at the present day. So numerous have 
these conversions from Hinduism been, that the tendency of 
the Muhammadans of the west as well as the east coast of 
Southern India has been to reversion to the Hindu or aboriginal 
type, and, except in the case of some of the nobler families, they 
now in great part present all the characteristics of an aboriginal 
people, with very little of the original foreign blood in them. 2 
In the western coast districts the tyranny of caste intolerance is 
peculiarly oppressive ; to give but one instance, in Travancore 
certain of the lower castes may not come nearer than seventy- 
four paces to a Brahmin, and have to make a grunting noise as 
they pass along the road, in order to give warning of their ap- 
proach. 3 Similar instances might be abundantly multiplied. 
What wonder then that the Musalman population is fast increas- 
ing through conversion from these lower castes, who thereby 
free themselves from such degrading oppression, and raise them- 
selves and their descendants in the social scale. 

In fact the Mappila on the west coast are said to be increasing 
so considerably through accessions from the lower classes of 
Hindus, as to render it possible that in a few years the whole of 
the lower races of the west coast may become Muhammadans. 4 

It was most probably from Malabar that Islam crossed over to 
the Laccadive and Maldive Islands, the population of which is 
now entirely Muslim. The inhabitants of these islands owed 
their conversion to the Arab and Persian merchants, who estab- 
lished themselves in the country, intermarrying with the natives, 
and thus smoothing the way for the work of active proselytism. 
The date of the conversion of the first Muhammadan Sultan, 

1 See the passage quoted above from the Tohfut-ul-Mujahideen (p. 73). In 
another passage (p. 69) reference is made to outcasts taking refuge within the pale 
of Islam. 

3 Report on the Census of the Madras Presidency, 1871, by W. R. Cornish 
(pp. 71, 72, 109). (Madras, 1874.) 

* Caste : its supposed origin ; its history ; its effects (p. 30), (Madras, 1887). 

4 Report of the second Decennial Missionary Conference held at Calcutta. 
1882-3 (pp- 228, 233, 248). (Calcutta, 1883.) 


Ahmad Shanurazah, 1 has been conjectured to have occurred about 
1200 a.d., but it is very possible that the Muhammadan. merchants 
had introduced their religion into the island as much as three 
centuries before, and the process of conversion must undoubtedly 
have been a gradual one. 2 No details, however, have come down 
to us. 

At Male, the seat of Government, is found the tomb of Shaykb 
Yusuf Shamsu-d Din, a native of Tabriz, in Persia, who is said to 
have been a successful missionary of Islam in these islands. His 
tomb is still held in great veneration, and always kept in good 
repair, and in the same part of the island are buried some of his 
countrymen who came in search of him, and remained in the 
Maldives until their death. 3 

The Deccan also was the scene of the successful labours of 
many Muslim missionaries. It has already been pointed out that 
from very early times Arab traders had visited the towns on the 
west coast ; in the tenth century we are told that the Arabs were 
settled in large numbers in the towns of the Konkan, having 
intermarried with the women of the country and living under 
their own laws and religion.* Under the Muhammadan dynasties \ 
of the Bahmanid (1347-1490) and Bijapur (1489-1686) kings, a 
fresh impulse was given to Arab immigration, and with the 
trader and the soldier of fortune came the missionaries seeking 
to make spiritual conquests in the cause of Islam, and win 
over the unbelieving people of the country by their preaching 
and example, for of forcible conversions we have no record under 
the early Deccan dynasties, whose rule was characterised by a 
striking toleration.* 

One of these Arab preachers, Pir Mahabir Khandayat, came 
as a missionary to the Deccan as early as 1304 a.d., and among 
the cultivating classes of Bijapur are to be found descendants of 

1 Ibn Batutah. Tome iv. p. 128. 

Ibn Batutah resided in the Maldive Islands during the years 1343-4 and 
married " the daughter of a Vizier who was grandson of the Sultan Dawud, who 
was a grandson of the Sultan Ahmad Shanurazah" (Tome iv. p. 154) ; from 
this statement the date a.d. 1200 has been conjectured. 

2 H. C. P. Bell: The Maldive Islands, pp. 23-5, 57-8, 71. (Colombo, 1883.) 

3 Memoir on the Inhabitants of the Maldive Islands. By J. A. Young and 
W. Christopher. (Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society from 1836 
to 1838, p. 74. Bombay, 1 844.) 

4 Mas'udl. Tome ii. pp. 85-6. 

5 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. x. p. 132 ; vol. xvi. p. 75. 


the Jains who were converted by him. 1 About the close of the 
same century a celebrated saint of Gulbarga, Sayyid Husayn 
Gaysudaraz, 3 converted a number of Hindus of the Poona district, 
and twenty years later his labours were crowned with a like 
success in Belgaum. 3 At Dahanu still reside the descendants of 
the saint Shaykk Babu a hib, a relative of one of the greatest 
saints of Islam, Sayyid 'Abdu-1 Qadir Jilani of Baghdad ; he came 
to Western India about 400 years ago, and after making many 
converts in the Konkan, died and was buried at Dahanu. 4 In the 
district of Dharwar, there are large numbers of weavers whose 
ancestors were converted by Hasham Pir GujaratI, the religious 
teacher of the Bijapur king, Ibrahim 'Adil Shah II., about the 
close of the sixteenth century. These men still regard the saint 
with special reverence and pay great respect to his descendants.* 
The descendants of another saint, Shah Muhammad Sadiq 
Sarmast Husayni, are still found in Nasik ; he is said to have 
been the most successful of Muhammadan missionaries ; having 
come from Medina in 1568, he travelled over the greater part of 
Western India and finally settled at Nasik in which district 
another very successful Muslim missionary, Khwajah Khunmir 
Husayni, had begun to labour about fifty years before. 8 Two 
other Arab missionaries may be mentioned, the scene of whose 
proselytising efforts was laid in the district of Belgaum, namely 
Sayyid Muhammad Ibn Sayyid 'Ali and Sayyid 'Umar Idrus 
Basheban. 7 

Another missionary movement may be said roughly to centre 
round the city of Multan. 8 This in the early days of the Arab 
conquest was one of the outposts of Islam, when Muhammad 
Qasim had established Muhammadan supremacy over Sind 
(a.d. 714). During the three centuries of Arab rule there were 
naturally many accessions to the faith of the conquerors. 
Several Sindian princes responded to the invitation of the Caliph 
'Umar ibn ( Abdi-l 'Aziz to embrace Islam. 9 The people of 

1 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xxiii. p. 282. 

8 Sometimes called Sayyid Makhdum Gaysudaraz. 

3 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xviii. p. 501 ; vol. xxi. pp. 21 8, 223. 

4 Id. vol. xiii. p. 231. s Id. vol. xxii. p. 242. 
fi Id. vol. xvi. pp. 75-6. 7 Id. vol. xxi. p. 203. 

8 At the time of the Arab conquest the dominions of the Hindu ruler of Sind 
extended as far north as this city, which is now no longer included in this 

'* When the Caliph Sulayman, son of Abdu-l Malik, died, he was succeeded 



Sawandari who submitted to Muhammad Qasim and had peace 
granted to them on the condition that they would entertain the 
Musalmans and furnish guides are spoken of by Al Baladhuri 1 
(writing about 100 years later) as professing Islam in his time - 
and the despatches of the conqueror frequently refer to the 
conversion of the unbelievers. 

That these conversions were in the main voluntary, may be 
judged from the toleration that the Arabs, after the first violence 
of their onslaught, showed towards their idolatrous subjects. 
The people of Brahmanabad, for example, whose city had been 
taken by storm, were allowed to repair their temple, which was 
a means of livelihood to the Brahmans, and nobody was to be 
forbidden or prevented from following his own religion, 3 and 
generally, where submission was made, quarter was readily given,, 
and the people were permitted the exercise of their own creeds 
and laws. 

During the troubles that befell the Caliphate in the latter half 
of the ninth century, Sind, neglected by the central government, 
came to be divided among several petty princes, the most power- 
ful of whom were the Amirs of Multan and Mansura. Such 
disunion naturally weakened the political power of the Musal- 
mans, which had in fact begun to decline earlier in the century. 
For in the reign of Al Mu'tasim (a.d. 833-842), the Indians of 
Sindan 3 declared themselves independent, but they spared the 
mosque, in which the Musalmans were allowed to perform their 
devotions undisturbed. 4 The Muhammadans of Multan succeeded 
in maintaining their political independence, and kept themselves, 
from being conquered by the neighbouring Hindu princes, by- 
threatening, if attacked, to destroy an idol which was held in 
great veneration by the Hindus and was visited by pilgrims from 
the most distant parts.' But in the hour of its political decay, 
Islam was still achieving missionary successes. Al Baladhuri 6, 
tells the following story of the conversion of a king of 'Usayfan r 

by 'Umar ibn 'Abdu-1'Aziz (a.d. 717). He wrote to' the princes inviting them 
to become Musalmans and submit to his authority, upon which they would be 
treated like all other Musalmans. These princes had already heard of his 
promises, character, and creed, so Jaishiya and other princes turned Musalmans 
and took Arab names." (Elliot, vol. i. pp. 124-5.) 

1 Id. p. 122. 2 Id. pp. 185-6. 

3 Probably the Sindan in Abrasa, the southern district of Cutch. 

4 Al Baladhuri, p. 446. 3 Elliot, vol. i. pp. 27-8. 
6 Al Baladhuri, p. 446. 


a country between Kashmir and Multan and Kabul. The people 
of this country worshipped an idol for which they had built a 
temple. The son of the king fell sick, and he desired the priests 
of the temple to pray to the idol for the recovery of his son. 
They retired for a short time, and then returned saying, " We 
have prayed and our supplications have been accepted." But no 
long time passed before the youth died. Then the king attacked 
the temple, destroyed and broke in pieces the idol, and slew the 
priests. He afterwards invited a party of Muhammadan traders 
who made known to him the unity of God ; whereupon he 
believed in the unity and became a Muslim. A similar missionary 
influence was doubtless exercised by the numerous communities 
of Muslim merchants who carried their religion with them into 
the infidel cities of Hindustan. Arab geographers of the tenth 
and twelfth centuries mention the names of many such cities, 
both on the coast and inland, where the Musalmans built their 
mosques, and were safe under the protection of the native princes, 
who even granted them the privilege of living under their own 
laws. 1 The Arab merchants at this time formed the medium of 
commercial communication between Sind and the neighbouring 
countries of India and the outside world. They brought the 
produce of China and Ceylon to the sea-ports of Sind and from 
there conveyed them by way of Multan to Turkistan and 
Khurasan. 2 

It would be strange if these traders, scattered about in the 
cities of the unbelievers, failed to exhibit the same proselytising 
zeal as we find in the Muhammadan trader elsewhere. To the 
influence of such trading communities was most probably due the 
conversion of the Sammas, who ruled over Sind from 135 1 to 
1 521 a.d. While the reign of Jam Nanda bin Babiniyah of this 
dynasty is specially mentioned as one of such " peace and security, 
that never was this prince called upon to ride forth to battle, and 
never did a foe take the field against him," s it is at the same 
time described as being " remarkable for its justice and an increase 
of Islam." This increase could thus only have been brought 
about by peaceful missionary methods. One of the most famous 
of these missionaries was the celebrated saint, Sayyid Yusufu-d 

1 Elliot, vol. i. pp. 27, 38, 88, 457. 2 Id. vol. i. p. a 1. 

3 Id. vol. i. p. 373. 


din who came to Sind in 1422 ; after labouring there for ten 
years, he succeeded in winning over to Islam 700 families of the 
Lohana caste, who followed the example of two of their number, 
by name Sundarji and Hansraj ; these men embraced Islam, after 
seeing some miracles performed by the saint, and on their con- 
version received the names of Adamjl and Taj Muhammad 
respectively. Under the leadership of the grandson of the 
former, these people afterwards migrated to Cutch, where their 
numbers were increased by converts from among the Cutch 
Lohanas. 1 Sind was also the scene of the labours of Pir Sadru-d 
Din, a missionary of the Isma'ilian sect, whose doctrines he 
introduced into India about 400 years ago. In accordance with 
the principles of accommodation practised by this sect, he took 
a Hindu name and made certain concessions to the religious 
beliefs of the Hindus whose conversion he sought to achieve and 
introduced among them a book entitled Dasavatar in which 
'All was made out to be the tenth Avatar or incarnation of 
Visnu ; this book has been from the beginning the accepted 
scripture of the Khojah sect and it is always read by the bedside 
of the dying, and periodically at many festivals ; it assumes the 
nine incarnations of Visnu to be true as far as they go, but to 
fall short of the perfect truth, and supplements this imperfect 
Vaisnav system by the cardinal doctrine of the Isma'ilians, the 
incarnation and coming manifestation of 'All. Further he made 
out Brahma to be Muhammad, Visnu to be 'All and Adam Siva. 
The first of Pir Sadru-d Din's converts were won in the villages 
and towns of Upper Sind : he preached also in Cutch and from 
these parts the doctrines of this sect spread southwards through 
Gujarat to Bombay ; and at the present day Khojah communities 
are to be found in almost all the large trading towns of Western 
India and on the seaboard of the Indian Ocean. 2 

Pir Sadru-d Din was not however the first of the Isma'ilian 
missionaries that came into India. Some centuries before, a 
preacher of this sect known by the name of Nur Satagar, had 
been sent into India from Alamut, the stronghold of the Grand 
Master of the Isma'ilians, and reached Gujarat in the reign of the 

1 Bombay Gazetteer, vol. v. p. 93. 

2 Khoja Vrttant, p. 208. 

Sir Bartle Frere: The Khojas : the Disciples of the Old Man of the Mountain. 
Macmillan's Magazine, voL xxxiv. pp. 431, 433-4. (London, 1876.) 



Hindu king, Siddha Raj (1094-1143 a.d.). He adopted a Hindu 
name but told the Muhammadans that his real name was Sayyid 
Sa'adat ; he is said to have converted the Kanbis, Kharwas and 
Koris, low castes of Gujarat. 1 

Many of the Cutch Musalmans that are of Hindu descent rever- 
ence as their spiritual leader Dawal Shah Pir, whose real name 
was Malik 'Abdu-1 Latif, 2 the son of one of the nobles of Mahmiid 
Bigarrah (1459-1511), the famous monarch of the Muhammadan 
dynasty of Gujarat, to whose reign popular tradition assigns the 
date of the conversion of many Hindus. 3 

To the efforts of the same monarch has been ascribed* the 
conversion of the Borahs, a large and important trading com- 
munity of Shi'ahs, of Hindu origin, who are found in consider- 
able numbers in the chief commercial centres of the Bombay 
Presidency, but as various earlier dates have also been assigned, 
such as the beginning of the fourteenth century s and even the 
eleventh century, when the early Shi'ah preachers are said to 
have been treated with great kindness by the Hindu kings of 
Anhilvada in Northern Gujarat, 8 it is probable that their conver- 
sion was the work of several generations. A Shi'ah historian 7 
has left us the following account of the labours of a missionary 
named Mulla 'All, among these people, about the beginning of 
the fourteenth century. u As the inhabitants of Gujarat were 
pagans, and were guided by an aged priest, a recreant, in whom 
they had a great confidence, and whose disciples they were, the 
missionary judged it expedient, first to offer himself as a pupil to 
the priest, and after convincing him by irrefragable proofs, and 
making him participate in the declaration of faith, then to under- 
take the conversion of others. He accordingly passed some years 
in attendance on that priest, learnt his language, studied his 
sciences, and became conversant with his books. By degrees he 
opened the articles of the faith to the enlightened priest, and 
persuaded him to become a Musalman. Some of his people 
changed their religion in concert with their old instructor. The 

1 Khoja Vrttant, p. 158. 

2 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. v. p. 89. 

3 Id. vol. ii. p. 378 ; vol. iii. pp. 36-7. 4 Id. vol. vii. p. 70. 

6 H. T. Colebrooke : Miscellaneous Essays, vol. iii. p. 202. (London, 1873.) 
8 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xiii. p. 239. 

7 Nuru-llah of Shustar in his Majalisu-1 mu'minln. (Colebrooke's Essays, id. 
pp. 204-6.) 


circumstances of the priest's conversion being made known to the 
principal minister of the king of the country, he visited the 
priest, adopted habits of obedience towards him, and became a 
Muslim. But for a long time, the minister, the priest, and the 
rest of the converts dissembled their faith, and sought to keep it 
concealed, through dread of the king. 

At length the intelligence of the minister's conversion reached 
the monarch. One day he repaired to his house, and finding 
him in the humble posture of prayer, was incensed against him. 
The minister knew the motive of the king's visit, and perceived 
that his anger arose from the suspicion that he was reciting 
prayers and performing adoration. With presence of mind in 
spired by divine providence, he immediately pretended that his 
prostrations were occasioned by the sight of a serpent, which 
appeared in the corner of the room, and against which he was 
employing incantations. The king cast his eyes towards the 
corner of the apartment, and it so happened that there he saw a 
serpent ; the minister's excuse appeared credible, and the king's 
suspicions were lulled. 

After a time, the king himself secretly became a convert to 
the Muslim faith ; but dissembled the state of his mind, for 
reasons of state. Yet, at the point of death he ordered, by his 
will, that his corpse should not be burnt, according to the customs 
of the pagans. 

Subsequently to his decease, when Sultan Zafar, one of the trusty 
nobles of Sultan Firuz Shah, sovereign of Delhi (1531-88), con- 
quered the province of Gujarat, some learned men, who accom- 
panied him, used arguments to make the people embrace the 
faith according to the doctrines of such as revere the traditions " 
(i.e. the Sunnis). But, though some of the Borahs are Sunnis, 
for example in the district of Kaira, 1 the majority of them are 

Another missionary who laboured in Gujarat in the latter part 
of the fourteenth century was Shayjdi Jalal, commonly known 
under the appellation of Makhdum-i-Jahaniyan, who came and 
settled in Gujarat, where he and his descendants were instru- 
mental in the conversion of large numbers of Hindus. 2 

It is in Bengal, however, that the Muhammadan missionaries 

1 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. iii. p. 36. ! Id. vol. iv. p. 41. 

Q 2 


in India have achieved their greatest success, as far as numbers arc 
concerned. A Muhammadan kingdom was first founded here at 
the end of the twelfth century by Muhammad Baldltiyar Khalji, 
who conquered Bihar and Bengal and made Gaur the capital of 
the latter province. The long continuance of the Muhammadan 
rule would naturally assist the spread of Islam, and though the 
Hindu rule was restored for ten years under the tolerant Raja 
Kans, whose rule is said to have been popular with his Muham- 
madan subjects, 1 his son, Jatmall, renounced the Hindu religion 
and became a Musalman. 

After his father's death in 1414 he called together all the 
officers of the state and announced his intention of embracing 
Islam, and proclaimed that if the chiefs would not permit him to 
ascend the throne, he was ready to give it up to his brother ; 
whereupon they declared that they would accept him as their 
king, whatever religion he might adopt. Accordingly, several 
learned men of the Muslim faith were summoned to witness the 
Raja renounce the Hindu religion and publicly profess his accept- 
ance of Islam : he took the name of Jalalu-d Din Muhammad 
Shah, and according to tradition numerous conversions were 
made during his reign. 2 Many of these were however due to force, 
for his reign is signalised as being the only one in which any 
wholesale persecution of the subject Hindus is recorded, during 
the five centuries and a half of Muhammadan rule in Eastern 
Bengal. 3 The Afghan adventurers who settled in this province 
also appear to have been active in the work of proselytising, for 
besides the children that they had by Hindu women, they used 
to purchase a number of boys in times of scarcity, and educate 
them in the tenets of Islam. 4 But it is not in the ancient centres 
of the Muhammadan government that the Musalmans of Bengal 
are found in large numbers, but in the country districts, in 
districts where there are no traces of settlers from the West, and 
in places where low-caste Hindus and outcasts most abound/ 

1 So Firishtah, but see H. Blochmann : Contributions to the Geography and 
History of Bengal. (J. A. S. B. vol. xlii. No. i, pp. 264-6) (1873). 

3 J. H. Ravenshaw : Gaur : its ruins and inscriptions, p. 99. (London, 1878.) 
Firishtah, vol. iv. p. 337. 

8 Wise, p. 29. 

4 Charles Stewart : The History of Bengal, p. 176. (London, 1813.) 
H. Blochmann : Contributions to the Geography and History of Bengal. 
(J. A. S. B., vol. xlii. No. 1, p. 220) (1873). 

The Indian Evangelical Review, p. 278. January, 1883. Cf. also An Intro- 


The similarity of manners between these low-caste Hindus and 
the followers of the Prophet, and the caste distinctions which 
they still retain, as well as their physical likeness, all bear the 
same testimony and identify the Bengal Musalmans with the 
aboriginal tribes of the country. Here Islam met with no con- 
solidated religious system to bar its progress, as in the North- 
west of India, where the Muhammadan invaders found Brahman- 
ism full of fresh life and vigour after its triumphant struggle with 
Buddhism ; where in spite of persecutions, its influence was an 
inspiring force in the opposition offered by the Hindus, and 
retained its hold on them in the hour of their deepest distress 
and degradation. But in Bengal the Muslim missionaries were 
welcomed with open arms by the aborigines and the low castes 
on the very outskirts of Hinduism, despised and condemned by 
their proud Aryan rulers. " To these poor people, fishermen, 
hunters, pirates, and low-caste tillers of the soil, Islam came as a 
revelation from on high. It was the creed of the ruling race, its 
missionaries were men of zeal who brought the Gospel of the 
unity of God and the equality of men in its sight to a despised 
and neglected population. The initiatory rite rendered relapse 
impossible, and made the proselyte and his posterity true 
believers for ever. In this way Islam settled down on the richest 
alluvial province of India, the province which was capable of 
supporting the most rapid and densest increase of population. 
Compulsory conversions are occasionally recorded. But it was 
not to force that Islam owed its permanent success in Lower 
Bengal. It appealed to the people, and it derived the great mass 
of its converts from the poor. It brought in a higher conception 
of God, and a nobler idea of the brotherhood of man. It offered 

duction to the study of Hinduism, by Guru Proshad Sen. (The Calcutta Review, 
October, 1890, pp. 231-2.) "Of the 19 millions of Mahomedans in Bengal 
not more than 25,000 belong to what is known in Bengal as the Bhadralog class. 
The remainder are agriculturists, day labourers, and petty artisans, tailors and 
domestic servants. These were originally Hindus of the Jal Achal class, who 
were converted to Mahomedanism. As a class they are the most prosperous 
tenantry in India, and their condition instead of deteriorating as that of 
Mahomedans throughout India is ordinarily supposed to be, is daily improving. 
They were never anything more than agriculturists, and at no period of their 
history either Government servants, Government soldiers, or zemindars, much less 
conquerors of India, or even followers of the Mahomedan conquerors. They are 
born of the country, speak the Bengali language, write the Bengali character, 
dress like Bengalis, eat almost the same food as Bengalis, and, except as to 
matters of religion, resemble in all respects any other Bengali ryot." 


to the teeming low castes of Bengal, who had sat for ages abject 
on the outermost pale of the Hindu community, a free entrance 
into a new social organisation." 1 

The existence in Bengal of definite missionary efforts is said to 
be attested by certain legends of the zeal of private individuals 
on behalf of their religion, 2 and the graves of some of these 
missionaries are still honoured, and are annually visited by 
hundreds of pilgrims, 8 but detailed accounts of their proselytising 
labours appear to be wanting. 

In the present century there has been a remarkable revival of 
the Muhammadan religion in Bengal, and several sects that 
owe their origin to the influence of the Wahhabi reformation, 
have sent their missionaries through the province purging out 
the remnants of Hindu superstitions, awakening religious zeal and 
spreading the faith among unbelievers. 4 

To their efforts, combined with certain social and physical con- 
ditions that favour a more rapid increase in the Musalman as 
compared with the Hindu population, is to be attributed the 
marvellously rapid growth in the numbers of the followers of the 
Prophet in recent years. 5 

Some account still remains to be given of Muslim missionaries 
who have laboured in parts of India other than those mentioned 
above. One of the earliest of these is Shaykh Isma'il, one of the 
most famous of the Sayyids of Bukhara, distinguished alike for 
his secular and religious learning ; he is said to have been the 
first Muslim missionary who preached the faith of Islam in the 
city of Lahore, whither he came in the year 1005 a.d. Crowds 
flocked to listen to his sermons, and the number of his converts 

1 Sir W. W. Hunter : The Religions of India. (T/ie Times, February 25th, 
1888.) See also Wise, p. 32. 

2 James Vaughan : The Trident, the Crescent and the Cross, p. 168. (London, 

3 Wise, p. 37. 4 Id. pp. 48-55. 

' " It is statistically proved that since 1872 out of every 10,000 persons Islam 
has gained 100 persons in Northern Bengal, 262 in Eastern Bengal, and no in 
Western Bengal, on an average 157 in the whole of Bengal proper. The 
Musalman increase is real and large. If it were to continue, the faith of Muham- 
mad would be universal in Bengal proper in six and a half centuries, whilst 
Eastern Bengal would reach the same condition in about four hundred years. . . . 
Nineteen years ago in Bengal proper Hindus numbered nearly half a million more 
than Musalmans did, and in the space of less than two decades, the Musalmans 
have not only overtaken the Hindus, but have surpassed them by a million and a 
half." Census of India, 1891, vol. iii. The Lower Provinces of Bengal and their 
Feudatories, by C. J. O'Donnell, pp. 146, 147. (Calcutta, 1893.) 


swelled rapidly day by day, and it is said that no unbeliever ever 
came into personal contact with him without being converted to 
the faith of Islam. 1 

The conversion of the inhabitants of the western plains of the 
Panjab is said to have been effected through the preaching of 
Bahau-1 Haqq of Multan 2 and Baba Faridu-d Din of Pakpattan, 
who flourished about the end of the thirteenth and beginning 
of the fourteenth centuries. 3 A biographer of the latter saint 
gives a list of sixteen tribes who were won over to Islam through 
his preaching, but unfortunately provides us with no details of 
this work of conversion. 4 

One of the most famous of the Muslim saints of India and a 
pioneer of Islam in Rajputana was Khwajah Mu'inu-d Din Chishti, 
who died in Ajmir in 1234 a.d. He was a native of Sajistan to 
the east of Persia and is said to have received his call to preach 
Islam to the unbelievers in India while on a pilgrimage to Medina. 
Here the prophet appeared to him in a dream and thus addressed 
him : " The Almighty has entrusted the country of India to 
thee. Go thither and settle in Ajmir. By God's help, the faith 
of Islam shall through thy piety and that of thy followers, be 
spread in that land." He obeyed the call and made his way to 
Ajmir which was then under Hindu rule and idolatry prevailed 
throughout the land. Among the first of his converts here was a 
Yogi, who was the spiritual preceptor of the Raja himself: 
gradually he gathered around him a large body of disciples whom 
his teachings had won from the ranks of infidelity and his fame 
as a religious leader became very wide-spread and attracted to 
Ajmir great numbers of Hindus whom he persuaded to embrace 
Islam. 5 On his way to Ajmir he is said to have converted as 
many as 700 persons in the city of Delhi. 

Rather later in the same century, a native of 'Iraq, in Persia, 
by name Abu 'Ali Qalandar, came into India and took up his 
residence at Paniput, where he died at the ripe age of 100, in 
1324 a.d. The Muslim Rajputs of this city, numbering about 
300 males, are descended from a certain Amir Singh who was 

1 Qhulam Sarwar : ghazlnatu-l Asfiya, vol. ii. p. 230. 

2 Otherwise known as Shayjth, Bahau-d Din Zakaria. 

3 Ibbetson, p. 163. 

4 Mawlawl Asghar 'All: Jawahir-i-Faridi (a.H. 1033), p. 395. (Lahore, 

5 Elliot, vol. ii. p. 548. 


converted by this saint. His tomb is still held in honour and is 
visited by many pilgrims. 

Another such was Shayjdi Jalalu-d Din, a Persian who came 
into India about the latter half of the fourteenth century and 
settled down at Silhat, in Lower Assam, in order to convert the 
people of these parts to Islam. He achieved a great reputation 
as a holy man, and his proselytising labours were crowned with 
eminent success. 1 

Similarly at the present day there are abundant witnesses for 
Islam seeking to spread this faith in India and with very con- 
siderable success, the number of annual conversions being variously 
estimated at ten, fifty, one hundred and six hundred thousand. 2 
But the peculiarly individualistic character of Muslim missionary 
work, and the absence of any central organisation or of anything 
in the way of missionary reports render it exceedingly difficult 
to obtain information. But that there are Muslim missionaries 
engaged in active and successful propagandist labours, is un- 
doubted. In the Panjab a certain Haji Muhammad is said to 
have converted 200,000 Hindus. 3 During the last five years a 
mawlawi in Bangalore boasts that he has made as many as 1000 
converts in this city and its suburbs. However suspicious these 
statements may appear, yet the very fact of their being made, 
points to the existence of very active efforts of a true missionary 
character. The following details of such work have been gleaned 
from reliable sources in some cases from information furnished 
by the individuals referred to, themselves. In Patiala, Mawlawi 
'Ubaydu-llah, a converted Brahman of great learning, has proved 
himself a zealous preacher of Islam, and in spite of the obstacles 
that were at first thrown in his way by his relatives, has achieved 
so great a success that his converts almost fill an entire ward of 
the city. He has written some controversial works, which have 
passed through several editions, directed against the Christian 
and Hindu religions. In one of these books he has thus spoken 
of his own conversion : " I, Muhammad 'Ubaydu-llah, the son 
of Munshi Kota Mai, resident of Payal, in the Patiala State, declare 

1 Ibn Batutah. Tome iv. p. 217. Yule (2), p. 515. 

2 The Indian Evangelical Review, vol. xvi. pp. 52-3. (Calcutta, 1889-00.) 
The Contemporary Review, February, 1889, p. 170. The Spectator, October 15th, 
1887, p. 1382. 

3 Garcin de Tassy : La langue et la litterature Hindoustanies de 1850 a 1869, 
p. 343. (Paris, 1874.) 


that this poor man in his childhood and during the lifetime of 
his father was held in the bondage of idol worship, but the mercy 
of God caught me by the hand and drew me towards Islam, i.e. I 
came to know the excellence of Islam and the deformities of 
Hinduism, and I accepted Islam heart and soul, and counted 
myself one of the servants of the Prophet of God (peace be upon 
him !). At that time intelligence which is the gift of God sug- 
gested to me that it was mere folly and laziness to blindly follow 
the customs of one's forefathers and be misled by them and not 
make researches into matters of religion and faith, whereon depend 
our eternal bliss or misery. With these thoughts I began to 
study the current faiths and investigated each of them impartially. 
I thoroughly explored the Hindu religion and conversed with 
learned Pandits, gained a thorough knowledge of the Christian 
faith, read the books of Islam and conversed with learned men. 
In all of them I found errors and fallacies, with the exception of 
Islam, the excellence of which became clearly manifest to me ; 
its leader, Muhammad the Prophet, possesses such moral ex- 
cellences that no tongue can describe them, and he alone who 
knows the beliefs and the liturgy, and the moral teachings and 
practice of this faith, can fully realise them. Praise be to God ! 
So excellent is this religion that everything in it leads the soul to 
God. In short, by the grace of God, the distinction between 
truth and falsehood became as clear to me as night and day, 
darkness and light. But although my heart had long been 
enlightened by the brightness of Islam and my mouth made clean 
by the profession of faith, yet my evil passions and Satan had 
bound me with the fetters of the luxury and ease of this fleeting 
world, and I was in evil case because of the outward observances 
of idolatry. At length, the grace of God thus admonished me : 
' How long wilt thou keep this priceless pearl hidden within the 
shell and this refreshing perfume shut up in the casket ? thou 
shouldest wear this pearl about thy neck and profit by this 
perfume.' Moreover the learned have declared that to conceal 
one's faith in Islam and retain the dress and habits of infidels 
brings a man to Hell. So (God be praised !) on the 'Idu-1 Fitr 
1264 the sun of my conversion emerged from its screen of clouds, 
and I performed my devotions in public with my Muslim 
brethren." 1 

1 Tuhfatu-1 Hind, p. 3. (Dehli, a.h. 1309.) 


Mawlawl Baqa Husayn Khan, an itinerant preacher, has in the 
course of several years converted 228 persons, residents of Bombay, 
Cawnpore, Ajmir, and other cities. Mawlawl Hasan *Ali has 
converted twenty-five persons, twelve in Poona, the rest in 
Hyderabad and other parts of India. 1 In the district of Khandesh, 
in the Bombay Presidency, the preaching of the Oadi of Nasira- 
bad, Sayyid Safdar 'All, has lately won over to Islam a large body 
of artisans, who follow the trade of armourers or blacksmiths. 2 
A number of persons of the same trade, who form a small com- 
munity of about 200 souls in the district of Nasik, were converted 
in a curious way about twenty-five years ago. The Presbyterian 
missionaries of Nasik had for a long time been trying to convert 
them from Hinduism, and they were in a state of hesitation as to 
whether or not to embrace Christianity, when a Muhammadan 
faqir from Bombay, who was well acquainted with their habits of 
thought, expounded to them the doctrines of Islam and succeeded 
in winning them over to that faith. 3 

Many Muhammadan preachers have adopted the methods of 
Christian missionaries, such as street preaching, tract distribution, 

1 Mawlawl Hasan 'All furnished me with these figures some years before his 
death in 1896. In an obituary notice published in "The Moslem Chronicle" 
(April 4, 1896), the following quaint account is given of his life: "In private 
and school life, he was marked as a very intelligent lad and made considerable 
progress in his scholastic career within a short time. He passed Entrance at a 
very early age and received scholarship with which he went up to the First Art, 
but shortly after his innate anxiety to seek truth prompted him to go abroad the 
world and abandoning his studies he mixed with persons of different persuasions, 
Fakirs, Pandits, and Christians, entered churches, and roamed over wilderness 
and forests and cities with nothing to help him on except his sincere hopes and 
absolute reliance on the mercy of the Great Lord ; for one year he wandered in 
various regions of religion until in 1874 he accepted the post of a headmaster in 
a Patna school. ... As he was born to become a missionary of the Moslem 
faith, he felt an imperceptible craving to quit his post, from which he used to get 
Rs. 100 per mensem. He tendered his resignation, much to the reluctance of his 
friends, and maintained himself for some time by publishing a monthly journal, 
'Noorul Islam.' He gave several lectures on Islam at Patna, and then went to 
Calcutta, where he delivered his lecture in English, which produced such effect on 
the audience that several Luropean clergymen vouchsafed the truth of Islam, and 
a notable gentleman, Babu Bepin Chandra Pal, was about to become Musulman. 
He was invited by the people at Dacca, where his preachings and lectures left his 
name imbedded in the hearts of the citizens. His various books and pamphlets 
and successive lectures in Urdu and in English in the different cities and towns in 
India gave him a historic name in the world. Some one hundred men became 
Musalmans on hearing his lectures and reading his books." His missionary zeal 
manifested itself up to the last hour of his life, when he was overheard to say, 
" Abjure your religion and become a Musalman." On being questioned, he said 
he was talking to a Christian. 

2 The Bombay Gazetteer, vol. xii. p. 126. 
8 Id. vol. xvi p. 81. 


and other agencies. In many of the large cities of India, Muslim 
preachers may be found daily expounding the teachings of the 
prophet in some principal thoroughfare. In Bangalore this 
practice is very general, and one of these preachers, who is the 
imam of the mosque, is so popular that he is even sometimes 
invited to preach by Hindus : he preaches in the market-place, 
and during the last seven or eight years has gained forty-two 
converts. In Bombay a Muhammadan missionary preaches 
almost daily near the chief market of the city, and in Calcutta 
there are several preaching-stations that are kept constantly 
supplied. Among the converts are occasionally to be found 
some Europeans, mostly persons in indigent circumstances ; the 
mass, however, are Hindus. 1 Some of the numerous Anjumans 
that have of recent years sprung up in the chief centres of 
Musalman life in India, include among their objects the sending 
of missionaries to preach in the bazars ; such are the Anjuman- 
i-Himayat-i Islam of Lahore, and the Anjuman Harm Islam of 
Ajmlr. These particular Anjumans appoint paid agents, but 
much of the work of preaching in the bazars is performed by 
persons who are engaged in some trade or business during the 
working hours of the day and devote their leisure time in the 
evenings to this pious work. 

Much of the missionary zeal of the Indian Musalmans is directed 
towards counteracting the anti-Islamic tendencies of the instruc- 
tion given by Christian missionaries, and the efforts made are 
thus defensive rather than directly proselytising. Some preachers 
too turn their attention rather to the strengthening of the 
foundation already laid, and endeavour to rid their ignorant co- 
religionists of their Hindu superstitions, and instil in them a 
purer form of faith, such efforts being in many cases the con- 
tinuation of earlier missionary efforts. The work of conversion 
has indeed been often very imperfect. Of many, nominally 
Muslims, it may be said that they are half Hindus : they observe 
caste rules, they join in Hindu festivals and practise numerous 
idolatrous ceremonies. In certain districts also, e.g. in Mewat 
and Gurgaon, large numbers of Muhammadans may be found 

1 The Indian Evangelical Review, 1884, p. 128. Garcin de Tassy : La 
langue et la litterature Hindoustanies de 1850 a 1869, p. 485. (Paris, 1 874.) 
Garcin de Tassy : La langue et la litterature Hindoustanies en 1871, p. 12. 
(Paris, 1872.) 


who know nothing of their religion but its name ; they have no 
mosques, nor do they observe the hours of prayer. This is 
especially the case among the Muhammadans of the villages or in 
parts of the country where they are isolated from the mass of 
believers ; but in the towns the presence of learned religious men 
tends, in great measure, to counteract the influence of former 
superstitions, and makes for a purer and more intelligent form of 
religious life. In recent years, however, there has been, speaking 
generally, a movement noticeable among the Indian Muslims 
towards a religious life more strictly in accordance with the laws 
of Islam. The influence of the Christian mission schools has also 
been very great in stimulating among some Muhammadans of 
the younger generation a study of their own religion and in 
bringing about a consequent awakening of religious zeal. Indeed, 
the spread of education generally, has led to a more intelligent 
grasp of religious principles and to an increase of religious 
teachers in outlying and hitherto neglected districts. This 
missionary movement of reform (from whatever cause it may 
originate), may be observed in very different parts of India. In 
the Eastern districts of the Panjab, for example, after the mutiny, 
a great religious revival took place. Preachers travelled far and 
wide through the country, calling upon believers to abandon 
their idolatrous practices and expounding the true tenets of the 
faith. Now, in consequence, most villages, in which Muham- 
madans own any considerable portion, have a mosque, while the 
grosser and more open idolatries are being discontinued. 1 In 
Rajputana also, the Hindu tribes who have been from time to 
time converted to Islam in the rural districts, are now becoming 
more orthodox and regular in their religious observances, and are 
abandoning the ancient customs which hitherto they had observed 
in common with their idolatrous neighbours. The Merats, for 
example, now follow the orthodox Muhammadan form of marriage 
instead of the Hindu ritual they formerly observed, and have 
abjured the flesh of the wild boar. 2 A similar revival in Bengal 
has already been spoken of above. 

Such movements and the efforts of individual missionaries are, 
however, quite inadequate to explain the rapid increase of the 
Muhammadans of India, and one is naturally led to inquire what 

1 Ibbetson, p. 164. 

3 The Rajputarw Gazetteer, vol. i. p. 90 ; vol. ii. p. 47. (Calcutta, 1879.) 


are the causes other than the normal increase of population, 
which add so enormously to their numbers. The answer is to be 
found in the social conditions of life among Hindus. The insults 
and contempt heaped upon the lower castes of Hindus by their 
co-religionists, and the impassable obstacles placed in the way of 
any member of these castes desiring to better his condition, show 
up in striking contrast the benefits of a religious system which 
has no outcasts, and gives free scope for the indulgence of any 
ambition. In Bengal, for example, the weavers of cotton piece- 
goods, who are looked upon as vile by their Hindu co-religionists, 
embrace Islam in large numbers to escape from the low position 
to which they are otherwise degraded. 1 A very remarkable 
instance of a similar kind occurs in the history of the north- 
eastern part of the same province. Here in the year 1550 the 
aboriginal tribe of the Kocch established a dynasty under their 
great leader, Haju ; in the reign of his grandson, when the higher 
classes in the state were received into the pale of Hinduism, 2 the 
mass of the people finding themselves despised as outcasts, became 
Muhammadans. 3 Similar instances might be given from all parts 
of India. A Hindu who has in any way lost caste and been in 
consequence repudiated by his relations, and by the society in 
which he has been accustomed to move, would naturally be 
attracted towards a religion that receives all without distinction, 
and offers to him a grade of society equal in the social scale to 
that from which he has been banished. Such a change of religion 
might well be accompanied with sincere conviction, but men also 
who might be profoundly indifferent to the number or names of 
the deities they were called upon to worship, would feel very 
keenly the social ostracism entailed by their loss of caste, and 
become Muhammadan without any religious feelings at all. The 
influence of the study of Muhammadan literature also, and the 
habitual contact with Muhammadan society, must often make 
itself insensibly felt. Among the Rajput princes of the present 
day in Rajputana and Bundelkhand, such tendencies towards 
Islamism may be observed, 4 tendencies which, had the Mughal 

1 E. T. Dalton, p. 324. 

2 For an account of such Hinduising of the aboriginal tribes see Sir Alfred 
Lyall : Asiatic Studies, pp. 102-4. 

3 E. T. Dalton, p. 89. 

4 Sir Alired Lyall (Asiatic Studies, p. 29) speaks of the perceptible pro- 
clivity towards the faith of Islam occasionally exhibited by some of the Hindu 


empire lasted, would probably have led to their ultimate con- 
version. They not only respect Muhammadan saints, but have 
Muhammadan tutors for their sons ; they also have their food 
killed in accordance with the regulations laid down by the 
Muhammadan law, and join in Muhammadan festivals dressed as 
faqirs, and praying like true believers. On the other hand, it 
has been conjectured that the present position of affairs, under a 
government perfectly impartial in matters religious, is much more 
likely to promote conversions among the Hindus generally than 
was the case under the rule of the Muhammadan kingdoms, when 
Hinduism gained union and strength from the constant struggle 
with an aggressive enemy. 1 Hindus, too, often flock in large 
numbers to the tombs of Muslim saints on the day appointed to 
commemorate them, and a childless father, with the feeling that 
prompts a polytheist to leave no God unaddressed, will present 
his petition to the God of the Muhammadans, and if children are 
born to him, apparently in answer to this prayer, the whole family 
would in such a case (and examples are not infrequent) embrace 
Islam. 2 

Love for a Muhammadan woman is occasionally the cause of 
the conversion of a Hindu, since the marriage of a Muslim woman 
to an unbeliever is absolutely forbidden by the Muslim law. 
Hindu children, if adopted by wealthy Musalmans, would be 
brought up in the religion of their new parents ; and a Hindu 
wife, married to a follower of the Prophet, would be likely to 
adopt the faith of her husband. As the contrary process cannot 
take place, the number of Muhammadans is bound to increase in 
proportion to that of the Hindus. Hindus, who for some reason 
or other have been driven out of their caste ; the poor who have 
become the recipients of Muhammadan charity, or women and 
children who have been protected when their parents have died 

1 Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh, vol i. p. xix. 

2 To give one instance only : in Ghatampur, in the district of Cawnpore, one 
branch of a large family is Muslim in obedience to the vow of their ancestor, 
Ghatam Deo Bais, who while praying for a son at the shrine of a Muham- 
madan saint, Madar Shah, promised that if his prayer were granted, half his 
descendants should be brought up as Muslims. (Gazetteer of the N.W.P. vol. vi. 
pp. 64, 238.) 

The worship of Muhammadan saints is so common among certain low-caste 
Hindus that in the Census of 1891, in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh 
alone, 2,333,643 Hindus (or 5.78 per cent, of the total Hindu population of these 
provinces) returned themselves as worshippers of Muhammadan saints. Census 
of India, 1891, vol. xvi. part i. pp. 217, 244. (Allahabad, 1894.) 


or deserted them (such cases would naturally be frequent in times 
of famine) form a continuous though small stream of additions 
from the Hindus. 1 There are often local circumstances favour- 
able to the growth of Islam ; for example, it has been pointed 
out 2 that in the villages of the Terai, in which the number of 
Hindus and Muhammadans happen to be equally balanced, any 
increase in the predominance of the Muhammadans is invariably 
followed by disputes about the killing of cows and other practices 
offensive to Hindu feeling. The Hindus gradually move away 
from the village, leaving behind of their creed only the Chamar 
ploughman in the service of the Muhammadan peasants. These 
latter eventually adopt the religion of their masters, not from any 
conviction of its truth, but from the inconvenience their isolation 

Some striking instances of conversions from the lower castes 
of Hindus are also found in the agricultural districts of Oudh. 
Although the Muhammadans of this province form only one-tenth 
of the whole population, still the small groups of Muhammadan 
cultivators form " scattered centres of revolt against the degrading 
oppression to which their religion hopelessly consigns these lower 
castes." 3 The advantages Islam holds out to such classes as the 
Koris and Chamars, who stand at the lowest level of Hindu 
society, and the deliverance which conversion to Islam brings 
them, may be best understood from the following passage 
descriptive of their social condition as Hindus. 4 " The lowest 
depth of misery and degradation is reached by the Koris and 
Chamars, the weavers and leather-cutters to the rest. Many of 
these in the northern districts are actually bond slaves, having 
hardly ever the spirit to avail themselves of the remedy offered 
by our courts, and descend with their children from generation to 
generation as the value of an old purchase. They hold the 
plough for the Brahman or Chhattri master, whose pride of caste 
forbids him to touch it, and live with the pigs, less unclean than 
themselves, in separate quarters apart from the rest of the village. 
Always on the verge of starvation, their lean, black, and ill-formed 

1 Report on the Census of the N.W.P. and Oudh, 1 881, by Edward White, 
p. 62. (Allahabad, 1882.) 

2 Id. P . 63. 

3 Gazetteer of the Province of Oudh, vol. i. p. xix. 

4 Id. pp. xxiii.-xxiv. 


figures, their stupid faces, and their repulsively filthy habits 
reflect the wretched destiny which condemns them to be lower 
than the beast among their fellow-men, and yet that they are far 
from incapable of improvement is proved by the active and useful 
stable servants drawn from among them, who receive good pay 
and live well under European masters. A change of religion is 
the only means of escape open to them, and they have little 
reason to be faithful to their present creed." 

It is this absence of class prejudices which constitutes the real 
strength of Islam in India, and enables it to win so many converts 
from Hinduism. 

To complete this survey of Islam in India, some account still 
remains to be given of the spread of this faith in Kashmir and 
thence beyond the borders of India into Thibet. Of all the 
provinces and states of India (with the exception of Sind) Kashmir 
contains the largest number of Muhammadans (namely 70 per 
cent.) in proportion to the whole population, but unfortunately 
historical facts that should explain the existence in this state of 
so many Musalmans, almost entirely of Hindu or Thibetan origin, 
are very scanty. But all the evidence leads us to attribute it on 
the whole to a long-continued missionary movement inaugurated 
and carried out mainly by faqirs and dervishes, among whom 
were Isma'Ilian preachers sent from Alamut. 1 

It is difficult to say when this Islamising influence first made 
itself felt in the country. The first Muhammadan king of 
Kashmir, Sadru-d Din, is said to have owed his conversion to a 
certain Darwesh Bulbul Shah in the early part of the fourteenth 
century. This saint was the only religious teacher who could 
satisfy his craving for religious truth, when dissatisfied with his 
own Hindu faith he looked for a more acceptable form of doctrine. 
Towards the end of the same century (in 1388) the progress of 
Islam was most materially furthered by the advent of Sayyid 'All 
HamadanI, a fugitive from his native city of Hamadan in Persia, 
where he had incurred the wrath of Timur. He was accompanied 
by 700 Sayyids, who established hermitages all over the country 
and by their influence appear- to have assured the acceptance of 
the new religion. Their advent appears, however, to have also 
stirred up considerable fanaticism, as Sultan Sikandar (1393-1417) 

1 Khoja Vftiunt, p. 141. 


acquired the name of Butshikan from his destruction of Hindu 
idols and temples, and his prime minister, a converted Hindu, 
set on foot a fierce persecution of the adherents of his old faith, 
but on his death toleration was again made the rule of the 
kingdom. 1 Towards the close of the fifteenth century, a mis- 
sionary, by name Mir Shamsu-d Din, belonging to a Shi'ah sect, 
came from 'Iraq, and, with the aid of his disciples, won over a 
large number of converts in Kashmir. 

When under Akbar, Kashmir became a province of the Mughal 
Empire, the Muhammadan influence was naturally strengthened 
and many men of learning came into the country. In the reign 
of Aurangzeb, the Rajput Raja of Kishtwar was converted by the 
miracles of a certain Sayyid Shah Faridu-d Din and his conversion 
seems to have been followed by that of the majority of his subjects, 
and along the route which the Mughal Emperors took on their 
progresses into Kashmir we still find Rajas who are the descen- 
dants of Muhammadanised Rajputs. 2 

To the north of Kashmir, in Skardu or Little Thibet, there has 
been a Muhammadan population for over three centuries, but 
the traditions regarding the first introduction of this faith here 
are very conflicting. To the north-east, Islam is encroaching 
upon Buddhism, 3 and has been carried by the Kashmiri merchants 
into Thibet Proper itself. In all the chief cities, settlements of 
Kashmiri merchants are to be found ; in Lhasa they number 
about a thousand ; they marry Thibetan wives who often adopt 
the religion of their husbands ; but active efforts at conversion 
cannot be made from fear of the authorities. 4 Islam moreover 
has made its way into Thibet from Yunnan in China and from 

1 Firishtah, vol. iv. pp. 464, 469. 

2 F. Drew: The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories, pp. 58, 155. (London, 

8 J. D. Cunningham : A History of the Sikhs, p. 17. (London, 1853.) 
4 These facts were communicated to me by a Thibetan Lama from Lhasa. 
6 A. Bastian: Die Geschichte der Indochinesen, p. 159. (Leipiig, 1866.) 



It is remarkable how little attention until very recently has been 
paid to Islam in China. This neglect is all the more striking 
when we consider how long the fact of its existence in this 
country has been known to the West and how early it was noted 
by European travellers. So far back as the thirteenth century, 
Marco Polo speaks of the Muhammadans he met with while 
travelling in China. In the province of Carajan (i.e. Yunnan), 
he says u the people are of sundry kinds, for there are not only 
Saracens and Idolaters, but also a few Nestorian Christians." 1 
Again, speaking of a city called Sinju (the modern Siningfu), he 
says : " The population is composed of Idolaters and worshippers 
of Mahomet, but there are some Christians." 3 

The Jesuit missionaries and others of the latter part of the 
seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century not 
infrequently make mention of the Muhammadans in China, but 
appear to have taken little care to inquire into their history or 
to obtain information regarding their numbers and position in 
the country : indeed at this time the Chinese Muslims seem to 
have attracted very little interest in Europe. 3 

Even among the general mass of the Muhammadans them- 
selves, very little is known of their Chinese co-religionists, beyond 
the account given of them by Ibn Batutah, who visited China 
about the middle of the fourteenth century. He speaks of the 
hearty welcome he received as being a new-comer from the 

1 Yule's Marco Polo, vol. ii. p. 39. J Id. vol. i. p. 241. 

3 A Collection of Voyages and Travels, vol. ii. pp. 76, 79. (London, 1745.) 
A Collection of Voyages and Travels, vol. i. pp. 17, 76. (London, 1752.) 
J. B. du Halde : Description g^ographique, bistorique, chronologique, politique 
et physique de l'Empire de la Chine. Tome i. p. 133. (Paris, 1735.) 


country of Islam 1 and tells us that " In every town there is a 
special quarter for the Muslims, inhabited solely by them, where 
they have their mosques ; they are honoured and respected by 
the Chinese." 2 

When however the great Muhammadan rebellion in Yunnan, 
which reached its climax about twenty years ago, brought the 
existence of a large Muslim population in China forcibly to the 
notice of the world, two very remarkable works were published 
on the Chinese Muhammadans. The one, in Russian, by Pro- 
fessor Vasil'ev, drew an alarmist picture of the danger that 
threatened the civilisation of Europe from the presence of this 
vast Muhammadan population, the existence of which had 
been hitherto so unsuspected, and whose religion, he seems to 
think, 1 * is' destined to be the national faith of the China of the 
future. "If China, which contains at least one-third of the 
human race, were to be converted into a Muhammadan empire, 
the political relations of the whole East would be considerably 
modified. The world of Islam stretching from Gibraltar to the 
Pacific Ocean might once again lift up its head. Islam might 
and would again threaten Christendom, and the peaceful activity 
of the Chinese people which is now so profitable to the rest of 
the world, would, in the hands of fanatics, be turned into a yoke 
upon the necks of other nations." " The Musalmans in Turkistan 
and Zungaria will certainly not fail to continually threaten the 
Chinese Empire, where their co-religionists are found scattered 
all over the country ; and even if these provinces were to come 
again under Chinese rule, would Islam be the weaker for it or 
its spread and development be checked ? The question we have 
raised may be postponed for some few years only : suppose, for ten, 
or perhaps at most for a century : but all this while Islam will 
continue to make progress, and watching for a favourable oppor- 
tunity for the realisation of its hopes, will in the end attain the 
goal of its aspirations." " If the Chinese Muhammadans were 
only the descendants of strangers who came into the country 
some long time ago, we should have no concern with the question 
as to whether the whole of China will one day be converted to 
Muhammadanism : but this very question pre-supposes that 
Muhammadanism is always gaining fresh adherents from among 

1 Tome iv. p. 270. 8 Tome iv. p. 258. 

R 2 


the natives of the country, and we may therefore well inquire 
whether the progress it is making will ever stop." u Again, if 
Islam some day succeeds in establishing its political supremacy 
over China, and then claims the allegiance of the mass of the 
population to its faith, will it meet with a refusal ? We think 
not, for such a change will seem infinitely easier to the Chinese 
than the change of costume which took place on the accession 
of the reigning dynasty." 1 One is naturally led to inquire what 
authority there is for such startling conclusions ; and the fullest 
account of the facts on which they are based is to be found in 
the work * of M. P. Dabry de Thiersant, late Consul General and 
Charge* d'Affaires in China, who has written an exhaustive 
account of the Chinese Musalmans, based on their own historical 
and liturgical literature, on imperial decrees relating to them, 
on private inquiries from learned men, and other sources. 

No book has ever been published in which the subject of Islam 
in China has been treated with such fulness of detail and such 
a wealth of information, and it is from this work, except where 
other authorities are expressly referred to, that the facts con- 
tained in the present chapter have been drawn. 

The main features of M. de Thiersant's volumes have recently 
received a very remarkable confirmation from a Chinese Musal- 
man himself, named Sayyid Sulayman, a native of Yunnan and 
son of a Chinese governor. With his brother he visited Turkey 
and other parts of the Muhammadan world, and in Cairo in 1894 
he was interviewed by the representative Of an Arabic journal, 
who has published the conversations that ensued on these 
occasions. 8 

From this brief sketch of the authorities for the history of 
Islam in China, let us now turn to the facts of this history them- 
selves. Islam came into China from two directions, by sea from 
the South and by land from the North-west. It is in the North- 
west, in the provinces of Kan-suh and Shen-si,* that by far the 
majority both numerically and proportionately of the Mu- 

1 Vasil'ev, pp. 3, 5, 14, 17. 

2 Le Mahometisme en Chine. (Paris, 1878.) 

3 Thamaratu-1 Funun. (Bayrut, 13th Sha'ban 26th Shawwal. A.H. 131 1, 
a.d. 1894.) 

4 Kan-suh contains 8,350,000 Musalmans, who in this province are, relatively 
to the other Chinese, in the proportion of six to five or four, while in Shen-si 
there are 6,500,000. (De Thiersant. Tome i. pp. 40-41.) 


hammadan population is to be found. These two provinces 
between them contain almost three-fourths of the twenty 
millions of Musalmans scattered throughout the Chinese 
Empire. 1 

Muslim missionaries first made their way into this part of the 
Chinese Empire, through Central Asia, in consequence of the 
friendly relations that were established in the early days of the 
Caliphate between the Emperor of China and the new power in 
the West, which from Arabia was so rapidly extending its 
dominion over the neighbouring kingdoms. Arabia had been 
known to the Chinese as early as the second century of the 
Christian era, but the first occasion mentioned of diplomatic 
relations being established between them is after the death of 
Yazdagird, the last king of Persia, when his son Firuz appealed 
to the Emperor of China to help him against his enemies. The 
Emperor replied that Persia was too far distant for him to send 
an army, but that he would speak on his behalf to the caliph 
'Uthman. The caliph gave a favourable reception to the imperial 
ambassador : and on his return he was accompanied by one of 
the Arab generals, who was received by the Emperor in 651 
with similar courtesy. In the reign of Walid (705-715), the 
famous Arab general, Qutaybah ibn Muslim, having been 
appointed governor of Khurasan, crossed the Oxus and began a 
series of most successful campaigns, in which he successively 
captured Bukhara, Samarqand and other cities, and converted 
the surrounding country to Islam. Then with his victorious 
army he marched eastward towards the frontier of China and 
sent envoys to the Emperor, who (according to Arab historians) 
dismissed them with a large sum of money in token of homage 
to the Caliph. A few years later, the Chinese annals make 
mention of more than one ambassador who came bringing 

1 This is M. de Thiersant's estimate, calculated from information furnished him 
by Chinese officials. A more recent authority gives the number as "probably 
thirty millions." (Asia, by A. H. Keane, edited by Sir Richard Temple, p. 578. 
London, 1882. ) Sayyid Sulayman says that these estimates are out of date owing 
to the yearly increase in the numbers of the Muhammadan population, which he 
declares to amount to seventy millions, not including the people of Kashgar. 
(Thamaratu-1 Funun, 26th Ramadan, p. 3.) As an instance of the ignorance 
respecting the Muhammadans of China, it may be noticed that Mr. Wilfrid S. 
Blunt (p. 8) puts the number at fifteen millions, Dr. Jessup (p. 5) as low as four, 
and the Archimandrite Palladius between three and four millions. (Z.D.M.G. 
vol. xxi. p. 50a. 1867.) * 


presents from the Caliph Hisham (724-743). Another embassy 
was sent to the Emperor Sutsung by the Caliph Al Man?ur in 
757 a.d., at a time when trade was being largely developed in 
the East, and from this time onwards such embassies are fre- 
quently mentioned. The friendly relations thus established 
between the two powers and the stimulus given to trade must 
have largely facilitated the missionary activity of those most 
zealous propagandists of Islam, the Musalman traders, many of 
whom came into China from Bukhara, Transoxania and Arabia. 
The Chinese annalist of this period (713-742 a.d.) says that " the 
barbarians of the West came in crowds, like a deluge, from a 
distance of more than 3000 miles and from more than 100 
kingdoms, bringing as tribute their sacred books, which were 
received and deposited in the hall set apart for translations 
of sacred or canonical books, in the imperial palace ; from this 
period the religious doctrines of these different countries were 
thus diffused and openly practised in the empire." 

The first mosque in the North of China was built in the year 
742 a.d., in the capital city of the province of Shen-si, and a 
mandarin was appointed to look after the affairs of the Muslim 
community. The Archimandrite Palladius speaks of an inscribed 
tablet that was discovered at Singan-fu (where also the famous 
Nestorian tablet was dug up), bearing the same date (742 a.d.) 
and referring to the introduction of Islam into China, but it 
assigns an impossible date to this event, namely, the reign of the 
Sui emperor, Kai-huang (a.d. 581-600). The evidence of this 
tablet is, however, conclusive as to the early period at which 
Islam reached this country. 1 

The details of the spread of the new religion are very meagre. 
It appears to have made its way into the province of Kan-suh, 
which at that time formed part of the Empire of the Hoey-hu 
(whose original home lay between the rivers Irtish and Orkhon), 
about the middle of the eighth century. How far the religion 
had spread among them, when about the middle of the tenth 
century, their Khan, Satoc, was converted to Islam, it is impossible 
to say. This prince made war on all unbelievers and endeavoured 
to force all his subjects to become Musalmans. His example was 
followed by his successors who forbade the exercise of all other 

1 Bretschneider (i), vol. i. p. 266 ; vol. ii. p. 305. 



religions with the exception of Nestorian Christianity. But in 
the beginning of the thirteenth century, when Jingis Khan 
destroyed the kingdom of the Hoey-hu, he proclaimed religious 
liberty throughout all his dominions. Among the subjects of 
the Khan of the Hoey-hu, were the Uigurs (a Turkish tribe, which 
formed the base of the Ottoman Turks, coming originally from 
Khamil in Chinese Turkistan), 1 and one account 3 traces the 
origin of the Tungani (which in the Turki language means " a 
convert " and is the name given in Turkistan to the Chinese 
Muhammadans) to a large body of Uigurs, who were, transferred 
to the vicinity of the Great Wall during the rule of the Thang 
dynasty (618-907. a.d.). Marriages were encouraged between 
these settlers and the Chinese women, and when in later times 
the Uigur tribe embraced Islam, 3 their kindred in China followed 
their example. They still, however, kept up the practice of 
marrying Chinese women, the children of such unions being 
brought up as Muhammadans. At a later period these Tunganis 
received fresh accessions of their kindred who flocked into the 
provinces of Shen-si and Kan-suh, at the time when the conquests 
of Jingis Khan, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, opened 
up a high-road of communication between the East and West of 
Asia. These people are said to have a special liking for 
mercantile pursuits and are known in Central Asia for their com- 
mercial integrity. They are distinguished from the Chinese by 
their strength of body and are generally selected by them for 
police duties. 

The conquests of the Mongols resulted in a vast immigration 
of Musalman Syrians, Arabs, Persians and others into the Chinese 
Empire. 4 Some came as merchants, artisans, soldiers or 
colonists, others were brought in as prisoners of war. A great 
number of them settled in the country and developed into a 
populous and flourishing community, gradually losing their racial 
peculiarities by their marriages with Chinese women. We find 

1 Anderson, p. 162. 2 Yule's Marco Polo, vol. i. pp. 255-6. 

3 " They had abjured Buddhism about two hundred years and a half before the 
conquest of China by the Tartars (1207-1217)." Anderson, p. 148. 

* De Thiersant. Tome i. p. 47. 

That there was some migration westward also of Chinese into the conquered 
countries of Islam, where they would come within the sphere of its religious 
influence, we learn from the diary of a Chinese monk, who travelled through 
Central Asia to Persia in the years 1 22 1 -4: speaking of Samarqand, he says, 
M Chinese workmen are living everywhere." (Bretschneider (1), vol. i. p. 78.) 


several Muhammadans also occupying high posts under the 
Mongol Ih2qaans : such were'Abdu-r Rahman, who in 1244 was 
appointed head of the Imperial finances and allowed to farm the 
taxes imposed upon China l ; and Sayyid Ajal, a native of 
Bukhara, to whom Khubilay Khan, on his accession in 1259, 
entrusted the management of the Imperial finances ; he died in 
1270, leaving a high reputation for honesty, and was succeeded 
by another Muhammadan named Ahmad, who on the other 
hand left behind him a reputation the very reverse of that of his 
predecessor. The Chinese historians who praise the reign of 
Khubilay Khan make it a cause of complaint against this monarch 
that he did not employ Chinese officials instead of these Turks 
and Persians. 2 This same potentate established at Peking an 
imperial college for the Hoey-hu that had embraced Islam, a 
further proof of the increasing importance of the Musalmans in 
China. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, all the 
inhabitants of Yunnan are said, by a contemporary authority, 
to have been Musalmans. 3 

Up to this period the Muhammadans seemed to have been 
looked upon as a foreign community in China, but after the ex- 
pulsion of the Mongol dynasty in the latter part of the same 
century, being cut off from communication with their co-religion- 
ists in other countries, and being anxious not to excite against 
themselves the suspicions of the new dynasty, they instituted the 
practice (which they have continued to the present day), of 
avoiding the open exhibition of any specially distinguishing 
features of religious faith and practice, and tried to merge them- 
selves as much as possible in the common mass of the Chinese 
people. By this time Islam had been firmly established in the 
North of China and slowly but surely now began to extend the 
sphere of its influence by means of cautious and unobtrusive 
missionary efforts. The history- of this movement is buried in 
obscurity, but the Muhammadan communities of the present day 
are a living testimony to its efficacy. Throughout all the chief 
towns of Southern Mongolia the followers of the Prophet are to 
be found in considerable numbers in the midst of a population 
mainly Buddhist. In the capital city of Peking itself there are 

1 Howorth, vol. i. p. 161. 2 Id. vol. i. p. 257. 

Rashldu-d Din. (Yule's Cathay, p. 269.) 


20,000 Muhammadan families and thirteen mosques, the mullas 
of which come not from the West, but from Lin-tsin-chow, on 
the Imperial canal south-east of Peking, which is one of the most 
important centres of Muhammadan influence in the North-east 
of China. 1 

It is interesting to note that the Muslim community added 
considerably to its numbers through the accession of Chinese 
Jews, whose establishment in this country dates from a very 
early period : they held employments under the Government 
and were in possession of large estates, but by the close of the 
seventeenth century a great part of them had been converted to 
Islam. 2 

The eighteenth century was signalised by a revival of mission- 
ary activity on the part of the Muslims and an increase in the 
number of conversions. 3 One of the stimulating influences that 
contributed to this result may be found in the Chinese conquests 
in Central Asia and the extension of the empire towards the 
West, which were followed by the establishment of commercial 
relations with the Muhammadan cities of the Tian Shan region 
and the Khanates of Western Turkistan, thus bringing the 
North-west of China once again under the direct influence of 
the Muslim outer world. 4 

But in addition to this stream of Muhammadan influence 
entering China from the North-west, we find another distinct 
stream pouring in by sea from the South. Though this latter 
movement is numerically not so important, yet it is of consider- 
able historical interest. 

Commercial relations by sea had been established between 
Arabia and China long before the birth of Muhammad. It was 
through Arabia, in a great measure, that Syria and the ports of 
the Levant received the produce of the East. In the sixth 
century, there was a considerable trade between China and 
Arabia by way of Ceylon, and at the beginning of the seventh 

1 Vasil'ev, pp. 8-9. 

2 Clark Abel: Narrative of a Journey in the interior of China, p. 361. 
(London, 1818.) 

3 Lettres edifiantes et curieuses. Tome xix. p. 140. A missionary writing 
from Peking in 1721 says, " Le secte des Mahometans s'etend de plus en plus." 
See also l'Abbe Grosier. Tome iv. p, 507. 

4 Demetrius C. Boulger : History of China, vol. ii. pp. 529-30. (London, 
1 88 1 -4.) 


century the commerce between China, Persia and Arabia was 
still further extended, the town of Siraf on the Persian Gulf 
being the chief emporium for the Chinese traders. It is at this 
period, at the commencement of the Thang dynasty (618-907), 
that mention is first made of the Arabs in the Chinese annals. 1 
The Chinese chroniclers speak of the arrival in Canton of u a 
great number of strangers from the kingdom of Annam, Cam- 
bodge, Medina and several other countries." That these men 
were certainly Arabs and also Muslims may be determined from 
the details given of their habits and religious observances :-~ 
" These strangers worshipped the heaven (i.e. God), and had 
neither statue, idol nor image in their temples. The kingdom of 
Medina is close to that of India : in this kingdom originated the 
religion of these strangers, which is different to that of Buddha. 
They do not eat pork or drink wine and they regard as unclean 
the flesh of any animal not killed by themselves. They are 
nowadays called Hoey-hoey. 2 They had a temple called the 
temple of the Blessed Memory (i.e. the mosque built by Wahab 
ibn Abi Kabshah referred to below), which was built at the com- 
mencement of the Thang dynasty. At the side of the temple is 
a large round tower, 160 feet high, called Kang-ta (the undecorated 
tower). These strangers went every day to this temple to 
perform their ceremonies. After having asked and obtained the 
Emperor's permission to reside in Canton, they built magnificent 
houses, of a different style to that of our country. They were 
very rich and obeyed a chief chosen by themselves." 

It is impossible to tell with certainty (and the Chinese Muham- 
madans themselves can only offer conjectures on the matter), who 
was the leader of this colony in Canton. In their traditional 
accounts his name is variously given as Sarta, Sa-ka-pa, (this 
name is important, as pointing to the fact that he was a Sahabi, 
or companion of the Prophet), or Wang-ka-ze, but in each case 
he is stated to have been a maternal uncle of Muhammad. 4 M. 

1 Bretschncider (2), p. 6. 

2 This is the name by which the Chinese Musulmans call themselves. It 
signifies at once " return " and "submission," i.e. return to God by the straight 
path and submission to the will of the Almighty. 

3 De Thiersant. Tome i. pp. 19-20. 

4 Husayn ibn Muhammad al Diyarbakrl (vol. i. p. 184. Cairo, a.h. 1283) 
snys that Aminah, the mother of the Prophet, had neither brothers nor sisters, but 
that the Banu Zuhrah called themselves the uncles of Muhammad, because Aminah 
was of their tribe. 


Dabry de Thiersant identifies him with Wahab ibn Abi Kabshah, 
who is said to have stood in that relationship to the Prophet ; 
and he considers that the following account, derived from native 
Muhammadan sources and disentangled from among the legends 
and other embellishments that have gathered round the story of 
their great founder, may be taken to represent the main historical 
facts of his life. In the year 628 a.d. (a.h. 6, called in Arabian 
history, the year of the missions), Wahab ibn Abi Kabshah was 
sent by the Prophet to China to carry presents to the Emperor 
and announce to him the new religion. He was graciously re- 
ceived in Canton, and permission granted him to build a mosque, 
and the right of freely professing their religion in the empire was 
given to him and his co-religionists. After the accomplishment 
of his mission, he returned to Arabia in 632, but to his great grief 
found that the Prophet had died that same year. He must have 
stayed in Arabia a short time, because when he set out again for 
China, he took with him a copy of the Qur'an, which was first 
collected by the order of Abu Bakr in the eleventh or twelfth 
year of the Hijrah (a.d. 633-4). He died on his arrival at Canton, 
exhausted by the fatigues of his journey, and was buried in one of 
the suburbs of the city, where his tomb is still an object of rever- 
ence for all the Muhammadans of China. Around the mosque 
built by their founder, the little colony of Arab traders grew and 
flourished, living in perfectly friendly relations with their Chinese 
neighbours, their commercial interests being identical. They 
appear to have lived for some time as a foreign community, for 
an Arab merchant (about the middle of the ninth century) says that 
at that time the Muhammadans of the city of Canton had their 
own qadi, and did not pray for the Emperor of China, but for 
their own sovereign. This Muslim community, thus settled in 
Canton, speedily multiplied, partly through new arrivals, partly by 
marriage with the Chinese and by conversions from among them. 
In 758, however, they received an important addition to their 
numbers in 4000 Arab soldiers who had been sent by the Caliph 
Al Mansur to help the Emperor Sah-Tsung in crushing a re_ 
bellion that had broken out against him. At the end of the war 
these troops refused to return ; when the governor of the capital 
tried to compel them, they joined with the Arab and Persian 
merchants, their co-religionists, and pillaged the principal com- 
mercial houses in the city. The governor saved himself by fleeing 


to the ramparts, and could only return after obtaining from 
the Emperor permission for them to remain in China. Houses 
and lands were assigned to them in different cities, and marrying 
with the women of the country they formed a nucleus of the 
Muhammadan population, spread nowadays throughout the whole 
Celestial Empire. The only other important accession to their 
numbers that they have since received from outside, consists in 
the immigrations that took place at the time of the Mongol con- 
quests under Jingis Khan and his successors, of which mention 
has already been made. It was probably at this time that those 
scattered Muhammadan communities began to be formed, which 
have grown to such large proportions in so many provinces of 
China, where, very often, whole villages are to be met with, 
inhabited solely by Musalmans. The gradual and constant in- 
crease that has brought about this result does not seem in any 
way to have received any foreign assistance since the fall of the 
Mongol dynasty ; for, from that period, the Chinese government 
adopted that policy of keeping strangers at arm's length, which it 
has only abandoned within recent years. Isolated thus, the 
Muhammadan settlers became gradually merged into the mass 
of the native population, by their marriage with Chinese women 
and the adoption of Chinese habits and manners. So long as the 
trade with Arabia caused the commercial interests of the Chinese 
to be bound up with a foreign Muhammadan power, and a 
friendly alliance with the Caliph served as a safeguard against the 
common enemy, the Thibetans, so long were the Chinese Musal- 
mans assured from any harsh treatment or persecution. But 
even when this protection was withdrawn, we find them still 
enjoying the utmost freedom and toleration at the hands of the 
Chinese government. This is due in large measure to the 
skilful compromises and the careful concessions which the 
Muhammadans have always made to the prejudices of their 
fellow-countrymen. In their ordinary life they are completely 
in touch with the customs and habits prevalent around them ; 
they wear the pigtail and the ordinary dress of the Chinese, and 
put on a turban as a rule, only in the mosque. To avoid offend- 
ing against a superstitious prejudice on the part of the Chinese, 
they also refrain from building tall minarets. 1 Even in Chinese 

1 Vasil'ev, p. 15. 


Tartary, where the special privilege is allowed to the Musalman 
soldiers, of remaining unmixed, and of forming a separate body, 
the higher Muhammadan officials wear the dress prescribed to 
their rank, long moustaches and the pigtail, and on holidays they 
perform the usual homage demanded from officials, to a portrait 
of the Emperor, by touching the ground three times with their 
forehead. 1 Similarly all Muhammadan mandarins and other 
officials in other provinces perform the rites prescribed to their 
official position, in the temples of Confucius on festival days ; in 
fact every precaution is taken by the Muslims to prevent their 
faith from appearing to be in opposition to the state religion, and 
hereby they have succeeded in avoiding the odium with which 
the adherents of foreign religions, such as Judaism and Chris- 
tianity are regarded. They even represent their religion to their 
Chinese fellow-countrymen as being in agreement with the teach- 
ings of Confucius, with only this difference, that they follow the 
traditions of their ancestors with regard to marriages, funerals, 
the prohibition of pork, wine, tobacco, and games of chance, and 
the washing of the hands before meals. 2 Similarly the writings 
of the Chinese Muhammadans treat the works of Confucius and 
other Chinese classics with great respect, and where possible, 
point out the harmony between the teachings contained therein 
and the doctrines of Islam. 3 

The Chinese government, in its turn, has always given to its 
Muhammadan subjects (except when in revolt) the same privi- 
leges and advantages as are enjoyed by the rest of the popula- 
tion. No office of state is closed to them ; and as governors of 
provinces, generals, magistrates and ministers of state they enjoy 
the confidence and respect both of the rulers and the people. 
Not only do Muhammadan names appear in the Chinese annals 
as those of famous officers of state, whether military or civil, but 
they have also distinguished themselves in the mechanical arts 
and in sciences such as mathematics and astronomy. 4 The 
favour shown to the Muhammadans of China by the imperial 
government has more than once stirred up a spirit of envy and 
detraction in some of the Chinese mandarins, and the following 

1 Arminius Vamb&ry : Travels in Central Asia, p. 404. (London, 1864.) 

2 Vasil'ev, p. 16. 3 De Tbiersant. Tome ii. pp. 367, 372. 
4 Id. Tome i. p. 247. 

Thamaratu-1 Funun. (28th Sha'ban, p. 3.) 


decree of the year 1 731, called forth by such an accusation against 
the Muhammadans of the province of Shen-si, deserves quotation 
as exhibiting very clearly the spirit in which the Chinese 
Emperors have regarded their Muhammadan subjects : 

"In every province of the empire, for many centuries past have 
been found a large number of Muhammadans who form part of 
the people whom I regard as my own children just as I do my 
other subjects. I make no distinction between them and those 
who do not belong to their religion. I have received from 
certain officials secret complaints against the Muhammadans on the 
ground that their religion differs from that of the other Chinese, 
that they do not speak the same language, and wear a different 
dress to the rest of the people. They are accused of disobedience, 
haughtiness, and rebellious feelings, and I have been asked to 
employ severe measures against them. After examining these 
complaints and accusations, I have discovered that there is no 
foundation for them. In fact, the religion followed by the Musalmans 
is that of their ancestors ; it is true their language is not 
the same as that of the rest of the Chinese, but what a multi- 
tude of different dialects there are in China. As to their 
temples, dress and manner of writing, which differ from those of 
the other Chinese these are matters of absolutely no importance. 
These are mere matters of custom. They bear as good a charac- 
ter as my other subjects, and there is nothing to show that they 
intend to rebel. It is my wish, therefore, that they should be 
left in the free exercise of their religion, whose object is to teach 
men the observance of a moral life, and the fulfilment of social 
and civil duties. This religion respects the fundamental basis of 
Government, and what more can be asked for ? If then the 
Muhammadans continue to conduct themselves as good and loyal 
subjects, my favour will be extended towards them just as much 
as towards my other children. From among them have come 
many civil and military officers, who have risen to the very 
highest ranks. This is the best proof that they have adopted our 
habits and customs, and have learned to conform themselves to 
the precepts of our sacred books. They pass their examinations 
in literature just like every one else, and perform the sacrifices 
enjoined by law. In a word, they are true members of the great 
Chinese family and endeavour always to fulfil their religious, 
civil and political duties. When the magistrates have a civil case 


brought before them, they should not concern themselves with 
the religion of the litigants. There is but one single law for all 
my subjects. Those who do good shall be rewarded, and those 
who do evil shall be punished." l 

It must not be supposed however that the Muhammadans of 
China any the less form a very distinct and separate community, 
in spite of the care with which they avoid drawing upon them- 
selves the attention of the Government. The serious riots and 
hostile encounters, attended often with great loss of life, that 
have occasionally broken out between the Chinese Muhammadans 
and their heathen neighbours, show how strong a bond of union 
exists between them, at least within the limits of each separate 
province. The so-called Panthay insurrection in the province of 
Yunnan is a case in point ; this revolt was crushed by the 
Chinese Government only after a long and bloody struggle 
extending over a number of years (1855-74), in which more than 
two millions of Muhammadans are said to have been massacred. 2 
The Muhammadans of China have never yet, however, acted as 
one united body, and such disturbances have been local and con- 
fined to individual provinces. But these outbreaks are enough 
to show that the Chinese Muhammadans are not so politically 
unimportant or so unlikely to join in any united Muhammadan 
movement, as some have supposed. 3 They at the same time 
afford us evidence of the missionary activity which has been 
quietly engaged in producing and organising these different 

Not that this propagandism has been carried out by the method 
of public preaching. Such a method would be attended with 
much danger, and might bring upon the Muhammadans the 
charge of sedition, as may be judged from an interesting 
report which was sent to the Emperor in the year 1783 by a 
governor of the province of Khwang-Se. It runs as follows : " I 
have the honour respectfully to inform your Majesty that an 
adventurer named Han-Fo-Yun, of the province of Khwang-Se, 
has been arrested on a charge of vagrancy. This adventurer 

1 De Thiersant. Tome i. pp. 154-6. 

3 But still half or rather more than half of the (according to Sayyid Sulayman) 
wenty-six million inhabitants of this province are said at the present day to be 
Muhammadans. (Thamaratu-1 Funun. 2ist Sha'ban, A.H. 1311.) 

s Sir Richard Temple, Oriental Experience, p. 322. (London, 1883.) 


when interrogated as to his occupation, confessed that for the 
last ten years he had been travelling through the different pro- 
vinces of the Empire in order to obtain information about his 
religion. In one of his boxes were found thirty books, some of 
which had been written by himself, while others were in a 
language that no one here understands. These books praise in 
an extravagant and ridiculous manner a Western king, called 
Muhammad. The above-mentioned Han-Fo-Yun, when put to 
the torture, at last confessed that the real object of his journey 
was to propagate the false religion taught in these books, and 
that he remained in the province of Shen-Si for a longer time 
than anywhere else. I have examined these books myself. Some 
are certainly written in a foreign language ; for I have not 
been able to understand them : the others that are written in 
Chinese are very bad, I may add, even ridiculous on account 
of the exaggerated praise given in them to persons who 
certainly do not deserve it because I have never even heard of 

" Perhaps the above-mentioned Han-Fo-Yun is a rebel from 
Kan-Su. His conduct is certainly suspicious, for what was he 
going to do in the provinces through which he has been travelling 
for the last ten years ? I intend to make a serious inquiry into 
the matter. Meanwhile, I would request your Majesty to order 
the stereotyped plates, that are in the possession of his family, to 
be burnt, and the engravers to be arrested, as well as the authors 
of the books, which I have sent to your Majesty desiring to know 
your pleasure in the matter." l 

It is true that this missionary was released and the Governor 
censured by the Emperor, but the incident is sufficient to show 
the dangers of any active and open propagandism. Accordingly 
though a certain number of unbelievers from among the Chinese 
embrace Islam every year, their conversion is the result of the 
quiet, unobtrusive persuasions of private individuals. For a 
similar reason, conversions on a large scale have seldom occurred 
in modern times, though an instance from the last century may 
be mentioned, when, after the revolt was crushed in Zungaria, in 
1770, ten thousand military colonists with their families followed 
by many others were transplanted thither from other parts of 

1 De Thiersant. Tome ii. pp. 361-3. 



China to repeople the country, and they all embraced the religion 
of the surrounding Muhammadan population. 1 

In the towns, the Muhammadans tend little by little to form 
separate Muhammadan quarters, and finally do not allow any 
person to dwell among them who does not go to the mosque. 2 
Islam has also gained ground in China because of the promptitude 
with which the Muhammadans have repeopled provinces devas- 
tated by the various scourges so familiar to China. In times of 
famine they purchase children from poor parents, bring them up 
in the faith of Islam, and when they are full-grown provide them 
with wives and houses, often forming whole villages of these new 
converts. In the famine that devastated the province of Kwang- 
tung in 1790, as many as ten thousand children are said to have 
been purchased in this way from parents who, too poor to support 
them, were compelled by necessity to part with their starving 
little ones. 3 Sayyid Sulayman says that the number of accessions 
to Islam gained in this way every year is beyond counting. 4 
Every effort is made to keep faith alive among the new converts, 
even the humblest being taught, by means of metrical primers, 
the fundamental doctrines of Islam. 5 To the influence of the 
religious books of the Chinese Muslims, Sayyid Sulayman 
attributes many of the conversions that are made at the present 
day. 6 Thus, though they have no organised system of religious 
propaganda, yet the zealous spirit of proselytism with which the 
Chinese Musalmans are animated, secures for them a constant 
succession of new converts, and they confidently look forward to 
the day when Islam will be triumphant throughout the length 
and breadth of the Chinese Empire. 7 

1 De Thiersant. Tome i. pp. 163-4. 

2 L'Abbe Grosier : De la Chine, ou description generate de cet empire. 
Tome iv. p. 508. (Paris, 1 81 9.) 

3 Anderson, p. 151. L'Abbe Grosier : De la Chine. Tome iv. p. 507. 

4 Thamaratu-1 Funun. (17th Shawwal, p. 3.) 

5 W.J. Smith, p. 175. 6 Thamiiratu-1 Funun, id. 
7 De Thiersant Tome i. p. 39. 

Thamaratu-1 Funun. (26th Shawwal, p. 3.) 



The history of Islam in Africa, covering as it does a period of 
well-nigh thirteen centuries and embracing two-thirds of this 
vast continent, with its numerous and diverse tribes and races, 
presents especial difficulties in the way of systematic treatment, 
as it is impossible to give a simultaneous account in chronological 
order of the spread of this faith in all the different parts of the 
continent. Its relations to the Christian churches of Egypt and 
the rest of North Africa, of Nubia and Abyssinia have already 
been dealt with in a former chapter ; in the present chapter, 
it is proposed to trace its progress first among the heathen 
population of North Africa, then throughout the Sudan and 
along the West coast, and lastly along the East coast and in 
Cape Colony. 

The information we possess of the spread of Islam among the 
heathen population of North Africa is hardly less meagre than 
the few facts recorded above regarding the disappearance of the 
Christian church. It seems however that Islam made rapid 
progress among the Berbers, whose national characteristics and 
habits of life exhibited so close an affinity to those of their con- 
querors. When in 703 the Berbers made their last stand against 
the Arab army, their great queen and prophetess, Kahina, fore- 
seeing that the fortune of battle was to turn against them, sent 
her sons into the camp of the Muslim general with instructions 
that they were to embrace Islam and make common cause with 
the enemy ; she herself elected to fall fighting at the head of 
her countrymen in the great battle that crushed the political 
power of the Berbers, at the Springs of Kahina. 1 After the loss 

1 A. Miiller, vol. i. p. 421. 

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of their political independence, they accepted a religion that by 
its simplicity would naturally have recommended itself so much 
to them, and to which their prophetess had pointed them by 
what was virtually a submission on her part to the new faith. 

The army of twelve thousand Berbers that sailed from Africa 
in 711 under the command of Tariq (himself a Berber) to the; 
conquest of Spain, was composed of recent converts to Islam,, 
and their conversion is expressly said to have been sincere i 
learned Arabs and theologians were appointed, " to read and 
explain to them the sacred words of the Qur'an, and instruct 
them in all and every one of the duties enjoined by their new 
religion." 1 Miisa, the great conqueror of Africa, showed his zeal 
for the progress of Islam, by devoting the large sums of money 
granted him by the Caliph 'Abdu-1 Malik to the purchase of such 
captives as gave promise of showing themselves worthy children 
of the faith : " for whenever after a victory there was a number 
of slaves put up for sale, he used to buy all those whom he 
thought would willingly embrace Islam, who were'of noble origin, 
and who looked, besides, as if they were active young men. 
To these he first proposed the embracing of Islam, and if, after 
cleansing their understanding and making them fit to receive 
its sublime truths, they were converted to the best of religions, 
and their conversion was a sincere one, he then would, by way 
of putting their abilities to trial, employ them. If they evinced 
good disposition and talents he would instantly grant them 
liberty, appoint them to high commands in his army, and 
promote them according to their merits ; if, on the contrary, 
they showed no aptitude for their appointments, he would send 
them back to the common depot of captives belonging to the 
army, to be again disposed of according to the general custom of 
drawing out the spoil by arrows." 2 In the caliphate of 'Umar 
II., the then governor of Africa Isma'Il ibn 'Abdu-llah is said to 
have won over the Berbers to Islam by his mild and just ad- 
ministration, though the statement that in his time not a single 
Berber remained unconverted, is hardly credible. 3 For the 
conversion of the Berbers was undoubtedly the work of several 
centuries ; though the details of the spread of Islam among them 

1 Al MakkarT, vol. i. p. 253. " Idj p. lxv. 

3 Weil, vol. i. p. 583. 

S 2 


are unrecorded, still several circumstances may be mentioned 
which had a probable influence on their acceptance of this faith. 

The Berbers were in constant revolt against their Arab con- 
querors, and the Shi'ah missionaries who paved the way for the 
establishment of the Fatimid dynasty in the beginning of the 
tenth century found a ready welcome among them, and it is not 
improbable that the enthusiasm with which several of the Berber 
tribes supported this movement of revolt may have brought into 
the pale of Islam many who before had looked upon the accept- 
ance of this faith as a sign of loss of political independence. 
About the middle of the eleventh century, a still more popular 
movement attracted a great many of the Berber tribes to join 
the Muslim community. In the early part of this century, a 
chieftain of the Lamtuna, one of the Berber tribes of the 
Sahara, on his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca, sought in the 
religious centres of Northern Africa for a learned and pious 
teacher, who should accompany him as a missionary of Islam 
to his benighted and ignorant tribesmen : at first he found it 
difficult to find a man willing to leave his scholarly retreat and 
brave the dangers of the Sahara, but at length he met in 'Abdu- 
llah ibn Yassin the fit person, bold enough to undertake so 
difficult a mission, pious and austere in his life, and learned in 
theology, law and other sciences. So far back as the ninth 
century the preachers of Islam had made their way among the 
Berbers of the Sahara and established among them the religion 
of the Prophet, but this faith had found very little acceptance 
there, and 'Abdu-llah ibn Yassin found even the professed 
Muslims to be very lax in their religious observances and given 
up to all kinds of vicious practices. He ardently threw himself 
into the task of converting them to the right path and instruct- 
ing them in the duties of religion : but the sternness with which 
he rebuked their vices and sought to reform their conduct, 
alienated their sympathies from him, and the ill-success of his 
mission almost drove him to abandon this stiff-necked people 
and devote his efforts to the conversion of the Sudan. Being 
persuaded however not to desert the work he had once under- 
taken, he retired with such disciples as his preaching had 
gathered around him, to an island in the River Senegal, where 
they founded a monastery and gave themselves up unceasingly 
to devotional exercises. The more devout-minded among the 



Berbers, stung to repentance by the thought of the wickedness 
that had driven their holy teacher from their midst, came humbly 
to his island to implore his forgiveness and receive his instructions 
in the saving truths of religions. Thus day by day there gathered 
around him an increasing band of disciples whose numbers 
swelled at length to about a thousand. 'Abdu-llah ibn Yassin 
then recognised that the time had come for launching out upon 
a wider sphere of action, and he called upon his followers to 
show their gratitude to God for the revelation he had vouchsafed 
them, by communicating the knowledge of it to others : u Go to 
your fellow-tribesmen, teach them the law of God and threaten 
them with His chastisement. If they repent, amend their ways 
and accept the truth, leave them in peace : if they refuse and 
persist in their errors and evil lives, invoke the aid of God 
against them, and let us make war upon them until God decide 
between us." Hereupon each man went to his own tribe and 
began to exhort them to repent and believe, but without success : 
equally unsuccessful were the efforts of 'Abdu-llah ibn Yassin 
himself, who left his monastery in the hope of finding the Berber 
chiefs more willing now to listen to his preaching. At length in 
1042 he put himself at the head of his followers, to whom he had 
given the name of Al Murabitin (the so-called Almoravides) a 
name derived from the same root as the riba or monastery on 
his island in the Senegal, and attacked the neighbouring tribes 
and forced the acceptance of Islam upon them. The success that 
attended his warlike expeditions appeared to the tribes of the 
Sahara a more persuasive argument than all his preaching, and 
they very soon came forward voluntarily to embrace a faith that 
secured such brilliant successes to the arms of its adherents. 
'Abdu-llah ibn Yassin died in 1059, but the movement he had 
initiated lived after him and many heathen tribes of Berbers 
came to swell the numbers of their Muslim fellow-countrymen, 
embracing their religion at the same time as the cause they 
championed, and poured out of the Sahara over North Africa 
and later on made themselves masters of Spain also. 1 

It is not improbable that the other great national movement 
that originated among the Berber tribes, viz. the rise of the 
Almohades at the beginning of the twelfth century, may have 

1 alih ibn 'Abdi-1 Hallm, pp. 168-173. 
A. Muller, vol. ii. pp. 611-613. 


attracted into the Muslim community some of the tribes that 
had up to that time still stood aloof. Their founder, Abu 'Abdi- 
llah Muhammad ibn Tumart, popularised the sternly Unitarian 
tenets of this sect by means of a work in the Berber language 
entitled Tawhid or the Unity (of God), which expounded from 
his own point of view the fundamental doctrines of Islam. 1 Some 
of the Berber tribes however remained heathen up to the close 
of the fifteenth century, 2 but the general tendency was naturally 
towards an absorption of these smaller communities into the 

From the Sahara the knowledge of Islam first spread among 
the Negroes of the Sudan. The early history of this movement I 
is wrapped in obscurity : it was probably about the eleventh 
century that some Arab tribes or if not of pure Arab descent, i 
with some admixture of Arab blood in their veins came and 
settled among them. But even before then, individual Berber 
preachers and Arab merchants had not been without influence 
among the Negroes. The reign of Yusuf Ibn Tashtin, the founder 
of Morocco (1062 a.d.) and the second Amir of the Almoravide 
dynasty, was very fruitful in conversions and many Negroes under 
his rule came to know of the doctrines of Muhammad. 3 Two 
Berber tribes, the Lamina and the Jodala, whose habitat 
bordered on and partly extended into the Sudan, especially 
distinguished themselves by their religious zeal in the work of 
conversion. 4 From the records we possess of the progress of the 
faith among the negroes it is clear that Islam was brought from 
the north first to the tribes of the west and from them spread 
towards the east. One of the earliest conversions of which we 
have any record is that of Sa-Ka-ssi, the fifteenth king of the 
dynasty of Sa in Sonrhay (S.E. of Timbuktu), who was converted 
to Islam about 400 a.h. (1009-10 a.d.) and was the first Muham- 
madan king of Sonrhay. From this period the states on the 
Upper Niger formed a bulwark of the faith and attained to what 
for those times was a high level of civilisation and culture. 6 
Timbuktu, which was founded in 1077, became especially 

1 Salih ibn 'Abdi-llah HalTm, p. 250. 

3 Leo Africanus. {Ramusio. Tom. i. p. 11.) 3 Id. pp. 7, 77. 

4 Chronik der Sultane von Bornu, bearbeitet von Otto Blau, p. 322. (Z.D.M.G. 
vol. vi. 1852.) 

_ Oppel, p. 288. 


influential as a seat of Muhammadan learning and piety, and 
students and divines flocked there in large numbers attracted by 
the encouragement and patronage they received. Ibn Batutah, 
who travelled through this country in the middle of the fourteenth 
century, praises the Negroes for their zeal in the performance of 
their devotions and in the study of the Qur'an : unless one went 
very early to the mosque on Friday, he tells us, it was impossible 
to find a place, so crowded was the attendance. 1 In his time, 
the most powerful state of the Western Sudan was that of Melle 
or Malli, which had been founded a century before by the Man- 
dingos, one of the finest races of Africa : Leo Africanus 2 calls 
them the most civilised, the most intellectual and most respected 
of all the Negroes, and modern travellers praise them for their 
industry, cleverness and trustworthiness. 3 These Mandingos 
have been among the most active missionaries of Islam, which 
has been spread by them among the neighbouring peoples. 4 

Islam made its way further west about the middle of the 
eleventh century, when the reigning Sultan of Bornu (on the 
E. coast of Lake Chad) became a Muhammadan under the name 
of Hami ibnu-1 Jalil. 5 To the same period belongs the conversion 
of Kanem, a kingdom on the N. and N.E. of Lake Chad, which 
shortly after the adoption of Islam rose to be a state of consider- 
able importance, and whose sway extended over all the tribes of 
the Eastern Sudan to the borders of Egypt and Nubia. Having 
thus reached the very centre of Africa, the religion soon began to 
spread in all directions, and it is very probable that here two 
distinct streams of missionary enterprise met, the one coming 
from the West and the other from the North-east. The merchants 
of Kordofan and in the Eastern Sudan generally, boast that they 
are descended from Arabs, who made their way thither after the 
fall of the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt in the twelfth century. In 
the fourteenth century the Tungur Arabs, emigrating S. from 
Tunis, made their way through Bornu and Wadai to Darfur : 

1 Ibn Batutah. Tome iv. pp. 421-2. 2 Ramusio. Tom. i. p. 78. 

3 Winwood Reade describes them as " a tall, handsome, light-coloured race, 
Moslems in religion, possessing horses and large herds of cattle, but also cultivating 
cotton, ground-nuts, and various kinds of corn. I was much pleased with their 
kind and hospitable manners, the grave and decorous aspect of their women, the 
cleanliness and silence of their villages." W. Winwood Reade : African Sketch- 
book, vol. i. p. 303. 

4 Waitz, iier. Theil, pp. 18-19. 5 Otto Blau, p. 322. 


one of their number named Ahmad met with a kind reception 
from the heathen king of Darfur, who took a fancy to him, made 
him director of his household and consulted him on all occasions. 
His experience of more civilised methods of government enabled 
him to introduce a number of reforms both into the economy of 
the king's household and the government of the state. By 
judicious management, he is said to have brought the unruly 
chieftains into subjection, and by portioning out the land among 
the poorer inhabitants to have put an end to the constant internal 
raidings, thereby introducing a feeling of security and content- 
ment before unknown. The king having no male heir gave 
Ahmad his daughter in marriage and appointed him his suc- 
cessor, a choice that was ratified by the acclamation of the 
people, and the Muhammadan dynasty thus instituted has con- 
tinued down to the present century. The civilising influences 
exercised by this chief and his descendants were doubtless 
accompanied by some work of proselytism, but these Arab 
immigrants seem to have done very little for the spread of 
their religion among their heathen neighbours. Darfur only 
definitely became Muhammadan through the efforts of one of its 
kings named Sulayman who began to reign in 1596, 1 and it was 
not until the sixteenth or seventeenth century that Islam gained a 
footing in the other kingdoms lying between Kordofan and Lake 
Chad, such as Wadai and Bagirmi. The chief centre of Muham- 
madan influence at this time was the kingdom of Wadai, which 
was founded by { Abdu-l Karim about 161 2 a.d. In the same 
century Katsena and Kano 2 in the Hausa country came under 
Muhammadan rule, and it is probable that Islam had gained 
adherents throughout the whole of the Sudan before the century 
drew to a close. 3 

But the history of the Muhammadan propaganda in Africa 
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is very slight and 
wholly insignificant when compared with the remarkable revival 

1 R. C. Slatin Pasha : Fire and Sword in the Sudan, pp. 38, 40-2. (London, 

2 Kano is said to hare been founded in the middle of the tenth century : twenty- 
five of its kings were heathen, but the next was a Muhammadan ; under his six 
immediate successors, Kano was again under heathen rule, but thenceforward all 
its kings have been Muhammadans. (C. H. Robinson : Hausaland, p. 178.) 
(London, 1896.) 

s Oppel, pp. 290-I. 



of missionary activity during the present century. Some powerful 
influence was needed to arouse the dormant energies of the 
\ African Muslims, whose condition during the eighteenth century 
' seems to have been almost one of religious indifference. Their 
spiritual awakening owed itself to the influence of the Wahhabi 
reformation at the close of the last century ; whence it comes that 
in modern times we meet with some accounts of proselytising 
movements among the Negroes that are not quite so forbiddingly 
meagre as those just recounted, but present us with ample details 
of the rise and progress of several important missionary 

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, a remarkable man, 
Shaykh 'Uthman Danfodio, 1 arose from among the Fulahs as a 
religious reformer and warrior-missionary. From the Sudan he 
made the pilgrimage to Mecca, whence he returned full of zeal 
and enthusiasm for the reformation and propagation of Islam. 
Influenced by the doctrines of the Wahhabls, who were growing 
powerful at the time of his visit to Mecca, he denounced the 
practice of prayers for the dead and the honour paid to departed 
saints, and deprecated the excessive veneration of Muhammad 
himself ; at the same time he attacked the two prevailing sins of 
the Sudan, drunkenness and immorality. 

Up to that time the Fulahs had consisted of a number of small 
scattered clans living a pastoral life ; they had early embraced 
Islam, and hitherto had contented themselves with forming 
colonies of shepherds and planters in different parts of the Sudan. 
The accounts we have of them in the early part of the eighteenth 
century, represent them to be a peaceful and industrious people ; 
one 2 who visited their settlements on the Gambia in 1731 speaks 
of them thus : " In every kingdom and country on each side of 
the river are people of a tawny colour, called Pholeys (i.e. Fulahs), 
who resemble the Arabs, whose language most of them speak ; 
for it is taught in their schools, and the Koran, which is also their 
law, is in that language. They are more generally learned in the 
Arabic, than the people of Europe are in Latin ; for they can 
most of them speak it ; though they have a vulgar tongue called 
Pholey. They live in hordes or clans, build towns, and are not 

1 S. W. Koelle: Poljrglotta Africana, p. 18. (London, 1854.) Winwood 
Reade, vol. i. p. 317. Oppel, p. 292. 
3 Francis Moore, pp. 75-7. 


subject to any of the kings of the country, tho' they live in 
their territories ; for if they are used ill in one nation they break 
up their towns and remove to another. They have chiefs of 
their own, who rule with such moderation, that every act of 
government seems rather an act of the people than of one man. 
This form of government is easily administered, because the 
people are of a good and quiet disposition, and so well instructed 
in what is just and right, that a man who does ill is the abomina- 
tion of all They are very industrious and frugal, and raise 

much more corn and cotton than they consume, which they sell at 
reasonable rates, and are so remarkable for their hospitality that 
the natives esteem it a blessing to have a Pholey town in their 
neighbourhood ; besides, their behaviour has gained them such 
reputation that it is esteemed infamous for any one to treat 
them in an inhospitable manner. Though their humanity 
extends to all, they are doubly kind to people of their own 
race ; and if they know of any of their body being made a slave, 
all the Pholeys will unite to redeem him. As they have plenty 
of food they never suffer any of their own people to want ; but 
support the old, the blind, and the lame, equally with the others. 
They are seldom angry, and I never heard them abuse one 
another ; yet this mildness does not proceed from want of courage, 
for they are as brave as any people of Africa, and are very expert 
in the use of their arms, which are the assagay, short cutlasses, 

bows and arrows and even guns upon occasion They are 

strict Mahometans ; and scarcely any of them will drink brandy, 
or anything stronger than water." 

Danfodio united these scattered clans into one powerful 
kingdom, and inspiring them with the religious zeal, which to 
this day places them among the most active of Muhammadan 
missionaries, led them against the heathen tribes of the Hausa 
country. At the same time he sent letters to the kings of 
Timbuktu, Bornu, etc., commanding them to reform their lives 
and those of their subjects, or he would chastise them in the 
name of God. The conquering Fulahs spread southwards and 
westwards, laying waste whole tracts of country, and compelling 
all the tribes they conquered to embrace the faith of the Prophet. 
The petty communities thus broken up and subdued were united 
under one political organisation ; in this way Sokoto was built 
and made the capital of a Muhammadan kingdom, and later (in 



1837) Adamaua was founded on the ruins of several pagan 
kingdoms. In the Yoruba country, Danfodio destroyed the chief 
town Oyo, and founded near its site a new city, called Ilorin,with 
wide streets, market squares, and numerous mosques. The con- 
quering Fulahs made their way westward nearly to the ocean, 
and at the present day four powerful Muhammadan kingdoms in 
Senegambia and the Sudan attest the missionary zeal of 'Uthman 

Danfodio made of his people a nation of conquerors, and what 
is more to the present purpose, stirred up in them such zeal for 
the cause of their faith that they are among the most active 
propagandists of Islam in Africa, and their superior civilisation 
and education make them eminently fitted for this work. The 
progress of their religion has been furthered less by their conquests 
than by the peaceful missionary activity with which they have 
followed them up. 

But there has been much missionary work done for Islam in 
this part of Africa by men who have never taken up the sword to 
further their end, the conversion of the heathen. Such have 
been the members of some of the great Muhammadan religious 
orders, which form such a prominent feature of the religious life 
of Northern Africa. Their efforts have achieved great results 
during the present century, and though doubtless much of their 
work has never been recorded, still we have accounts of some of 
the movements initiated by them. 

Of these one of the earliest in the present century owed its 
inception to Si Ahmad ibn Idris 1 who enjoyed a wide reputation 
as a religious teacher in Mecca from 1797 to 1833, and was the 
spiritual chief of the Khadriyah ; before his death in 1835 he sent 
one of his disciples, by name Muhammad 'Uthmanu-1 Amir Ghani, 
on a proselytising expedition into Africa. Crossing the Red 
Sea to Kossayr, he made his way inland to the Nile ; here, among 
a Muslim population, his efforts were mainly confined to enrolling 
members of the order to which he belonged, but in his journey 
up the river he did not meet with much success until he reached 
Aswan ; from this point up to Dongola, his journey became quite 
a triumphant progress ; the Nubians hastened to join his order, 
and the royal pomp with which he was surrounded produced an 

1 Rinn, pp. 403-4. 


impressive effect on this people, and at the same time the fame 
of his miracles attracted to him large numbers of followers. At 
Dongola Muhammad 'Uthman left the valley of the Nile to go to 
Kordofan, where he made a long stay, and it was here that his 
missionary work among unbelievers began. Many tribes in this 
country and about Sennaar were still pagan, and among these the 
preaching of Muhammad 'Uthman achieved a very remarkable 
success, and he sought to make his influence permanent by con- 
tracting several marriages, the issue of which, after his death in 
1853, carried on the work of the order he founded called after 
his name the Amirghaniyah. 1 

A few years before this missionary tour of Muhammad 
'Uthman, the troops of Muhammad 'All, the founder of the 
present dynasty of Egypt, had begun to extend their conquests 
into the Eastern Sudan, and the emissaries of the various 
religious orders in Egypt were encouraged by the Egyptian 
government, in the hope that their labours would assist in the 
pacification of the country, to carry on a propaganda in this 
newly-acquired territory, where they laboured with so much 
success, that the recent insurrection in the Sudan under the 
Mahdi has been attributed to the religious fervour their preaching 
excited. 2 

In the West of Africa two orders have been especially instru- 
mental in the spread of Islam, the Qadriyah and the Tijaniyah. 
The former, the most widespread of the religious orders of Islam, 
was founded in the* twelfth century by 'Abdu-1 Qadiri-1 Jilani, said 
to be the most popular and most universally revered of all the 
saints of Islam, 3 and was introduced into Western Africa in the 
fifteenth century, by emigrants from Tuat, one of the oases in 
the western half of the Sahara ; they made Walata the first 
centre of their organisation, but later on their descendants were 
driven away from this town, and took refuge in Timbuktu, further 
to the east. In the beginning of the present century the great 
spiritual revival that was so profoundly influencing the Muham- 
madan world, stirred up the Qadriyah of the Sahara and the 
Western Sudan to renewed life and energy, and before long, 
learned theologians or small colonies of persons affiliated to the 

1 Le Chatelier (i), pp. 231-3. 2 Id. (2), pp. 89-91. 

3 Rinn, p. 175- 



order were to be found scattered throughout the Sudan, on the 
mountain chain that runs along the coast of Guinea, and even to 
the west of it in the free state of Liberia. These initiates formed 
centres of Islamic influence in the midst of a pagan population, 
among whom they received a welcome as public scribes, legists, 
writers of amulets, and schoolmasters : gradually they would 
acquire influence over their new surroundings, and isolated cases 
of conversion would soon grow into a little band of converts, the 
most promising of whom would often be sent to complete their 
studies at the chief centres of the order ; here they might remain 
for several years, until they had perfected their theological studies 
and would then return to their native place, fully equipped for 
the work of spreading the faith among their fellow-countrymen. 
In this way a leaven has been introduced into the midst of fetish- 
worshippers and idolaters, which has gradually spread the faith of 
Islam surely and steadily, though by almost imperceptible 
degrees. Up to the middle of the present century most of the 
schools in the Sudan were founded and conducted by teachers 
trained under the auspices of the Qadnyah, and their organi- 
sation provided for a regular and continuous system of propaganda 
among the heathen tribes. The missionary work of this order 
has been entirely of a peaceful character, and has relied wholly 
on personal example and precept, on the influence of the teacher 
over his pupils, and on the spread of education. 1 In this way the 
Qadriyah missionaries of the Sudan have shown themselves true 
to the principles of their founder and the universal tradition of 
their order. For the guiding principles that governed the life 
of 'Abdu-1 Qadir were love of his neighbour and toleration : 
though kings and men of wealth showered their gifts upon him, 
his boundless charity kept him always poor, and in none of his 
books or precepts are to be found any expressions of ill-will or 
enmity towards the Christians ; whenever he spoke of the 
people of the Book, it was only to express his sorrow for their 
religious errors, and to pray that God might enlighten them. 
This tolerant attitude he bequeathed as a legacy to his disciples, 
and it has been a striking characteristic of his followers in all 
ages. 2 

The Tijaniyah, belonging to an order founded in Algiers 

1 Le Chatelier (2), pp. 100-109. 2 Rinn, p. 174. 


towards the end of the last century, have, since their establish- 
ment in the Sudan about the middle of the present century, 
pursued the same missionary methods as the Qadriyah, and their 
numerous schools have contributed largely to the propagation of 
the faith ; but, unlike the former, they have not refrained from 
appealing to the sword to assist in the furtherance of their scheme 
of conversion, and, unfortunately for a true estimate of the 
missionary work of Islam in Western Africa, the fame of their 
Jihads or religious wars has thrown into the shade the successes 
of the peaceful propagandist, though the labours of the latter 
have been more effectual towards the spread of Islam than the 
creation of petty, short-lived dynasties. The records of cam- 
paigns, especially when they have interfered with the commercial 
projects or schemes of conquest of the white men, have naturally 
attracted the attention of Europeans more than the unobtrusive 
labours of the Muhammadan preacher and schoolmaster. But 
the history of such movements possesses this importance, that 
as has often happened in the case of Christian missions also 
conquest has opened out new fields for missionary activity, and 
forcibly impressed on the minds of the faithful the existence of 
large tracts of country whose inhabitants still remained uncon- 

The first of these militant propagandist movements on the part 
of the members of the Tijaniyah order owes its inception to 
'Umaru-1 Haji, who had been initiated into this order by a 
leader of the sect whose acquaintance he made in Mecca. He 
was a native of Futah Toro, and appears to have been a man of 
considerable endowments and personal influence, and of a com- 
manding presence. He was educated by a missionary from 
Arabia, with whom he spent several years in the study of Arabic. 
On his return in the year 1854 or 1855, from the Holy City, to 
which he had made the pilgrimage three times, he armed his 
slaves, gathered together an army of 20,000 men, and commenced 
a series of proselytising expeditions against those tribes that still 
remained pagan about the Upper Niger and Senegal. 

Some mention has already been made of the introduction of 
Islam into this part of Africa. The seed planted here by 'Abdu- 
llah ibn Yassin and his companions, was fructified by continual 
contact with Muhammadan merchants and teachers, and with the 
Arabs of the oasis of Al Hodh and others. A traveller of the 


fifteenth century tells how the Arabs strove to teach the Negro 
chiefs the law of Muhammad, pointing out how shameful a thing 
it was for them, being chiefs, to live without any of God's laws, 
and to do as the base folk did who lived without any law at all. 
From which it would appear that these early missionaries took 
advantage of the imposing character of the Muslim religion and 
constitution to impress the minds of these uncivilised savages. 1 
But in spite of centuries of contact with Muhammadan influences, 
'Umaru-1 Haji in the nineteenth century found that large masses 
of his fellow-countrymen still clung to the idolatry and super- 
stitions of their heathen forefathers. He first attacked the 
Mandingos of Bambuk, then turned towards the Upper Senegal 
and banished paganism from Segu, where the Bambara were still 
heathen, and reformed several Muslim states that had become 
imbued with heathenish ideas. He finally established himself in 
Segu and Moassina, where he subdued the Bambara and con- 
verted them to Islam, for the most part by violent means. He 
was killed about 1865, leaving his sons to rule over the whole of 
the country between the Upper Senegal and the Niger, which he 
had brought under his sway. 2 

'Umaru-1 Haji has had several successors in this method of 
extending the sphere of Muhammadan influence, members of 
his own family or disciples, who have imitated the leader of 
their order in stirring up the Tijaniyah to Jihad. But our infor- 
mation respecting their petty wars is very meagre and insufficient, 
for in their hands the empire of 'Umaru-1 Haji has been split up 
into a number of insignificant and petty states. We have ampler 
details of a more recent movement of the same kind, that has 
been set on foot in the south of Senegambia by a Mandingo, 
named Samudu, who at the head of a large body of zealous 
Muhammadans has succeeded in subduing several warlike and 
powerful pagan tribes. In 1884 he captured Falaba, the capital 
of the Soolima country, 250 miles east of Sierra Leone, after an 
obstinate siege of several months : for fifty years the people of 
Falaba had successfully resisted the attacks of the Fulah Muham- 
madans, who had attempted by yearly expeditions to reduce 
them. An Arabic account of the career of Samudu, written by 

1 Delle Navigationi di Messer Alvise daCada Mosto. (a.d. 1454.) Ramusio. 
Tome i. p. 101. 

2 Oppel, p. 292-3. Blyden, p. 10. 


a native chronicler, gives us some interesting details of his 
achievements. It begins as follows : M This is an account of the 
Jihad of the Imam Ahmadu Samudu, a Mandingo. . . . God con- 
ferred upon him His help continually after he began the work of 
visiting the idolatrous pagans, who dwell between the sea and the 
country of Wasulu, with a view of inviting them to follow the 
religion of God, which is Islam. 

M Know all ye who read this that the first effort of the Imam 
Samudu was a town named Fulindiyah. Following the Book 
and the Law and the Traditions, he sent messsengers to the king 
at that town, Sindidu by name, inviting him to submit to his 
government, abandon the worship of idols and worship one God, 
the Exalted, the True, whose service is profitable to His people 
in this world and in the next ; but they refused to submit. Then 
he imposed a tribute upon them, as the Qur'an commands on 
this subject ; but they persisted in their blindness and deafness. 
The Imam then collected a small force of about five hundred 
men, brave and valiant, for the Jihad, and he fought against the 
town, and the Lord helped him against them and gave him the 
victory over them, and he pursued them with his horses until 
they submitted. Nor will they return to their idolatry, for now 
all their children are in schoolsi being taught the Qur'an, and a 
knowledge of religion and civilisation. Praise be to God for 

In a similar way he has brought several pagan states under 
the influence of Muhammadan schools and teachers and 
administers them in accordance with the law of the Qur'an. In 
every town that falls into his power, either by capture or by its 
voluntary submission, he establishes a mosque and schools, which 
are served by duly qualified persons. Though he is at the head 
of a large army, he trusts more to the Qur'an and the educative 
influence of schools than to the sword, and he is said to have the 
art, as a rule, without bloodshed, of making his message accept- 
able to the pagans whom he summons to the faith. 1 

With regard to these militant movements of Muhammadan 
propagandism, it is important to notice that it is not the military 
successes and territorial conquests that have most contributed to 
the progress of Islam in these parts ; for it has been pointed out 

1 Blyden, pp. 357-60. 


that, outside the. limits of those fragments of the empire of 
'Umaru-1 Haji that have definitively remained in the hands of 
his successors, the forced conversions that he made have quickly 
been forgotten, and in spite of the momentary grandeur of his 
successes and the enthusiasm of his armies, very few traces remain 
of this armed propaganda. 1 The real importance of these move- 
ments in the missionary history of Islam in Western Africa is 
the religious enthusiasm they have stirred up, which has exhibited 
itself in a widespread missionary activity of a purely peaceful 
character among the heathen populations. These Jihads, rightly 
looked upon, are but incidents in the modern Islamic revival and 
are by no means characteristic of the forces and activities that 
have been really operative in the promulgation of Islam in Africa: 
indeed, unless followed up by distinctly missionary efforts they 
would have proved almost wholly ineffectual in the creation of a true 
Muslim community. This Muhammadan propaganda has spread 
the faith of the Prophet in many parts of Guinea and Senegambia, 
to which the Fulahs and merchants from the Hausa country in 
their frequent trading expeditions have brought the knowledge 
of their religion, and where they have succeeded during the 
present century in winning large numbers of converts. 

But the proselytising work of the order that is now to be 
described has never in any way been connected with violence 
or war and has employed in the service of religion only the arts 
of peace and persuasion. In 1837 a religious society was founded 
by an Algerian jurisconsult, named Sidi Muhammad ibn 'All as 
Sanusi, with the object of reforming Islam and spreading the 
faith ; before his death in 1859, he had succeeded in establishing, 
by the sheer force of his genius and without the shedding of 
blood, a theocratic state, to which his followers render devoted 
allegiance and the limits of which are every day being extended 
by his successors. The members of this sect are bound by rigid 
rules to carry out to the full the precepts of the Qur'an in 
accordance with the most strictly monotheistic principles, 
whereby worship is to be given to God alone, and prayers to 
saints and pilgrimages to their tombs are absolutely interdicted. 
They must abstain from coffee and tobacco, avoid all intercourse 
with Jews or Christians, contribute a certain portion of their 

1 Le Chatelier (2), p. 112. 


income to the funds of the society, if they do not give themselves 
up entirely to its service, and devote all their energies to the 
advancement of Islam, resisting at the same time any concessions 
to European influences. This sect is spread over the whole of 
North Africa, having religious houses scattered about the 
country from Egypt to Morocco, and far into the interior, in the 
oases of the Sahara and the Sudan. The centre of its organisation 
is in the oasis of Jaghbub in the Libyan desert between Egypt 
and Tripoli, where every year hundreds of missionaries are 
trained and sent out as preachers of Islam to all parts of northern 
Africa. It is to the religious house in this village that all the 
branch establishments (which are said to be 121 in number) look 
for counsel and instruction in all matters that concern the 
management and extension of this vast theocracy, which embraces 
in a marvellous organisation thousands of persons of numerous 
races and nations, otherwise separated from one another by vast 
differences of geographical situation and worldly interests. For 
the success that has been achieved by the zealous and energetic 
emissaries of this association is enormous ; convents of the order 
are to be found not only all over the north of Africa from Egypt 
to Morocco, throughout the Sudan, in Senegambia and Somali- 
land, but members of the order are to be found also in Arabia, 
Mesopotamia and the islands of the Malay Archipelago. 1 Though 
primarily a movement of reform in the midst of Islam itself, 
the Sanusiyah sect is also actively proselytising, and several African 
tribes that were previously pagan or merely nominally Muslim, 
have since the advent of the emissaries of this sect in their midst, 
become zealous adherents of the faith of the Prophet. Thus, 
for example, the Sanusi missionaries are labouring to convert 
that portion of the Baele (a tribe inhabiting the hill country of 
Ennedi, E. of Borku) which is still heathen, and are communi- 
cating their own religious zeal to such other sections of the tribe 
as had only a very superficial knowledge of Islam, and were 
Muhammadan only in name 2 ; the Tedas of Tu or Tibesti, in 
the Sahara, S. of Fezzan, who were likewise Muhammadans 
only in name when the Sanusiyah came among them, also bear 
witness to the success of their efforts. 3 The missionaries of this 

1 Riedel (1), pp. 7, W, 162. 

2 G. Nachtigal : Sahara und Sudan, vol. ii. p. 175. (Berlin, 1879-81.) 
:H Duveyrier, p. 45. 


sect also carry on an active propaganda in the Galla country and 
fresh workers are sent thither every year from Harar, where the 
Sanuslyah are very strong and include among their numbers all 
the chiefs in the court of the Amir almost without exception. 1 
In the furtherance of their proselytising efforts these missionaries 
open schools, form settlements in the oases of the desert, and 
noticeably in the case of the Wadai they have gained large 
accessions to their numbers by the purchase of slaves, who have 
been educated at Jaghbub and when deemed sufficiently well 
instructed in the tenets of the sect, enfranchised and then sent 
back to their native country to convert their brethren. 

Slight as these records are of the missionary labours of the 1 
Muslims among the pagan tribes of the Sudan, they are of im- 
portance in view of the general dearth of information regarding 
the spread of Islam in this part of Africa. But while document- 
ary evidence is wanting, the Muhammadan communities dwelling 
in the midst of fetish-worshippers and idolaters, as representatives 
of a higher faith and civilisation, are a living testimony to the 
proselytising labours of the Muhammadan missionaries, and 
(especially on the south-western borderland of Islamic influence) 
present a striking contrast to the pagan tribes demoralised by 
the European gin traffic. This contrast has been well indicated 
by a modern traveller, 3 in speaking of the degraded condition of 
the tribes of the Lower Niger : u In steaming up the river (i.e. 
the Niger), I saw little in the first 200 miles to alter my views, 
for there luxuriated in congenial union fetishism, cannibalism 
and the gin trade. But as I left behind me the low-lying coast 
region, and found myself near the southern boundary of what is 
called the Central Sudan, I observed an ever-increasing improve- 
ment in the appearance of the character of the native ; cannibal- 
ism disappeared, fetishism followed in its wake, the gin trade 
largely disappeared, while on the other hand, clothes became 
more voluminous and decent, cleanliness the rule, while their 
outward more dignified bearing still further betokened a moral 
regeneration. Everything indicated a leavening of some higher 
element, an element that was clearly taking a deep hold on the 

1 Paulitschke, p. 214. 

2 H. Duveyrier : La confierie musulmane de Sidi Mohammed Ben 'All Es- 
Senousi. passim. (Paris, 1886.) 

Louis Rinn : Marabouts et Khouans, pp. 481-513. 

3 Joseph Thomson (2), p. 185. 

T 2 


negro nature and making him a new man. That element you 
will perhaps be surprised to learn is Mahommedanism. 

" On passing Lokoja at the confluence of the Benud with the 
Niger, I left behind me the missionary outposts of Islam, and 
entering the Central Sudan, I found myself in a comparatively 
well-governed empire, teeming with a busy populace of keen 
traders, expert manufacturers of cloth, brass work and leather ; a 
people, in fact, who have made enormous advances towards 

In order to form a just estimate of the missionary activity 
of Islam in Nigritia, it must be borne in mind that, while on 
the coast and along the southern boundary of the sphere of i 
Islamic influence, the Muhammadan missionary is the pioneer of 
his religion, there is still left behind him a vast field for Muslim 
propaganda in the inland countries that stretch away to the 
north and the east, though it is long since Islam took firm root in 
this soil. Some sections of the Funj, the predominant Negro race 
of Sennaar, are partly Muhammadan and partly heathen, and 
Muhammadan merchants from Nubia are attempting the con- 
version of the latter. 1 It would be easy also to enumerate many 
sections of the population of the Sudan and Senegambia, that 
still retain their heathen habits and beliefs, or cover these only 
with a slight veneer of Muhammadan observances even though 
they have been (in most cases) surrounded for centuries by the 
followers of the Prophet. Consequently, the remarkable zeal for 
missionary work that has displayed itself among the Muham- 
madans of these parts during the present century, has not far to 
go in order to find abundant scope for its activity. Hence the 
importance, in the missionary history of Islam in this continent, 
of the movements of reform in the Muslim religion itself and the 
revivals of religious life, to which attention has been drawn above. 
The West Coast is another field for Muhammadan missionary 
enterprise wherein Islam finds itself confronted with a vast popu- 
lation still unconverted, in spite of the progress it has made on 
the Guinea Coast, in Sierra Leone and Liberia, in which last 
there are more Muhammadans than heathen. In Ashanti there 
was a nucleus of a Muhammadan population to be found as early 
as 1750 and the missionaries of Islam have laboured there ever 

1 Oppel, p. 303. 


since with slow but sure success, 1 as they find a ready welcome in 
the country and have gained for themselves considerable influence 
at the court ; by means of their schools they get a hold on the 
minds of the younger generation, and there are said to be sig- 
nificant signs that Islam will become the predominant religion in 
Ashanti, as already many of the chiefs have adopted it. 2 In 
Dahomey and the Gold Coast, Islam is daily making fresh 
progress, and even when the heathen chieftains do not themselves 
embrace it, they very frequently allow themselves to come under 
the influence of its missionaries, who know how to take advan- 
tage of this ascendancy in their labours among the common 
people. 3 Dahomey and Ashanti are the most important kingdoms 
in this part of the continent that are still subject to pagan rulers 
and their conversion is said to be a question of a short time only. 4 
In Lagos there are well nigh 10,000 Muslims, and all the trading 
stations of the West Coast include in their populations numbers 
of Musalmans belonging to the superior Negro tribes, such as the 
Fulahs, the Mandingos and the Hausa. When these men come 
down to the cities of the coast, as they do in considerable 
numbers, either as traders or to serve as troops in the armies of 
the European powers, they cannot fail to impress by their bold 
and independent bearing the Negro of the coast-land ; he sees 
that the believers in the Qur'an are everywhere respected by 
European governors, officials and merchants ; they are not so far 
removed from him in race, appearance, dress or manners as to 
make admission into their brotherhood impossible to him, and to 
him too is offered a share in their privileges on condition of con- 
version to their faith. 5 As soon as the pagan Negro, however 
obscure or degraded, shows himself willing to accept the teachings 
of the Prophet, he is at once admitted as an equal into their 
society, and admission into the brotherhood of Islam is not a 
privilege grudgingly granted, but one freely offered by zealous 
and eager proselytisers. For, from the mouth of the Senegal to 
Lagos, over two thousand miles, there is said to be hardly any 
town of importance on the seaboard in which there is not at 
least one mosque, with active propagandists of Islam, often 
working side by side with the teachers of Christianity. 6 

1 Waltz : iier Theil, p. 250. 2 C. S. Salmon, p. 891. 

3 Pierre Bouche, p. 256. 4 Blyden, p. 357. 

5 C. S. Salmon, p. 887. a Blyden, p. 202. 


Authorities are not agreed as to what are the exact geographical 
limits to be assigned to the sphere of Islam in Africa ; 1 speaking 
roughly, lat. io N. may be taken as the southern boundary of 
Muslim Africa, although some tribes to the north of this line still 
remain heathen. 2 As already pointed out this southern limit has 
been long overpassed on the West Coast, as also on the Lower 
Niger, but, with the exceptions to be afterwards noted, Central 
Africa has been very little touched by Muslim influences. Not 
but what there are many Muhammadans to be found in Central 
Africa, particularly the settlements of the Arab traders that have 
made their way inland from Zanzibar ; but these appear to be 
animated by little or no missionary zeal, and have not founded 
states similar to those in the Sudan, organised and governed in 
accordance with the law of the Qur'an. Further east, indeed, the 
coast-land has been under Muhammadan influence since the 
second century of the Hijrah, but Eastern Africa (with the 
exception of the country of the Galla and Somali) has contributed 
very little to the missionary history of Islam. 

The facts recorded respecting the early settlements of the 
Arabs on the East Coast are very meagre ; according to an Arabic 
chronicle which the Portuguese found in Kiloa 3 when that town 
was sacked by Don Francisco d 'Almeida in 1505, the first settlers 
were a body of Arabs who were driven into exile because they 
followed the heretical teachings of a certain Zayd,* a descendant 
of the Prophet, after whom they were called Emozaydij (probably 
hX i*l or people of Zayd). The Zayd here referred to is 
probably Zayd ibn 'Ali, a grandson of Husayn and so great-grand- 
son of 'All, ithe nephew of Muhammad : in the reign of the 
Caliph Hisham he claimed to be the Imam Mahdi and stirred up 
a revolt among the Shi'ah faction, but was defeated and put to 
death in a.h. 122 (a.d. 740). 5 

They seem to have lived in considerable dread of the original 
pagan inhabitants of the country, but succeeded gradually in 

1 For the line in the map, indicating the Southern limit of Muhammadan 
influence, I am indebted to Dr. Oscar Baumann, who is well known for his 
explorations in German East Africa. 

' Oppel, pp. 294-7. " Situated on an island about 2 S. of Zanzibar. 

4 " Hum Mouro chamado Zaide, que foi neto de Mocem filho de Ale o sobrinho 
de Mahamed." Da Barros, Dec. i. Liv. viii. cap. iv. p. 211. 

* Ibn Khaldun, vol. iii. pp. 98-100. 


extending their settlements along the coast, until the arrival of 
another band of fugitives who came from the Arabian side of the 
Persian Gulf, not far from the island of Bahrayn. These came in 
three ships under the leadership of seven brothers, in order to 
escape from the persecution of the king of Lasah, 1 a city hard by 
the dwelling-place of their tribe. The first town they built was 
Magadaxo, 3 which afterwards rose to such power as to assume 
lordship over all the Arabs of the coast. But the original settlers, 
the Emozaydij, belonging as they did to a different Muhammadan 
sect, being ShI'ahs, while the new-comers were Sunnis, were un- 
willing to submit to the authority of the rulers of Magadaxo, and 
retired into the interior, where they became merged into the 
native population, intermarrying with them and adopting their 
manners and customs. 3 

Magadaxo was founded about the middle of the tenth century 
and remained the most powerful city on this coast for more than 
seventy years, when the arrival of another expedition from the 
Persian Gulf led to the establishment of a rival settlement further 
south. The leader of this expedition was named 'All, one of the 
seven sons of a certain Sultan Hasan of Shiraz : because his mother 
was an Abyssinian, he was looked down upon with contempt by 
his brothers, whose cruel treatment of him after the death of 
their father, determined him to leave his native land and seek a 
home elsewhere. Accordingly with his wife and children and a 
small body of followers, he set sail from the island of Ormuz, and 
avoiding Magadaxo, whose inhabitants belonged to a different 
sect, and having heard that gold was to be found on the Zanzibar 
coast, he pushed on to the south and founded the city of Kiloa, 
where he could maintain a position of independence and be free 
from the interference of his predecessors further north. 4 

In this way a number of Arab towns sprang up along the east 
coast from the Gulf of Aden to the Tropic of Capricorn, on the 
fringe of what was called by the mediaeval Arab geographers the 
country of the Zanj. Whatever efforts may have been made by 
the Muhammadan settlers to convert the Zanj, no record of them 
seems to have survived. There is a curious story preserved in an 

1 Possibly a mistake for Al Hasa. See Ibn Batutah. Tome ii. pp. 247-8. 

2 Or (to give it its Arabic name) Maqclishu. 

3 J. de Barros. Dec. i. Liv. viii. cap. iv. pp. 2II-?I2. 

4 De Barros, id. pp. 224-5. 


old collection of travels written probably in the early part of the 
tenth century, which represents Islam as having been introduced 
among one of these tribes by the king of it himself. An Arab 
trading vessel was driven out of its course by a tempest in the year 
922 a.d. and carried to the country of the man-eating Zanj, where 
the crew expected certain death. On the contrary, the king of 
the place received them kindly and entertained them hospitably 
for several months, while they disposed of their merchandise on 
advantageous terms ; but the merchants repaid his kindness with 
foul treachery, by seizing him and his attendants when they came 
on board to bid them farewell, and then carrying them off as 
slaves to Oman. Some years later the same merchants were 
driven by a storm to the same port, where they were recognised 
by the natives who surrounded them in their canoes ; giving 
themselves up for lost this time, they repeated for one another 
the prayers for the dead. They were taken before the king, 
whom they discovered to their surprise and confusion to be the 
same they had so shamefully treated some years before. Instead, 
however, of taking vengeance upon them for their treacherous 
conduct, he spared their lives and allowed them to sell their 
goods, but rejected with scorn the rich presents they offered. 
Before they left, one of the party ventured to ask the king to tell 
the story of his escape. He described how he had been taken as 
a slave to Basrah and thence to Baghdad, where he was converted 
to Islam and instructed in the faith ; escaping from his master, 
he joined a caravan of pilgrims going to Mecca, and after per- 
forming the prescribed rites, reached Cairo and made his way up 
the Nile in the direction of his own country, which he reached 
at length after encountering many dangers and having been more 
than once enslaved. Restored once again to his kingdom, he 
taught his people the faith of Islam ; " and now I rejoice in that 
God hath given to me and to my people the knowledge of Islam 
and the true faith ; to no other in the land of the Zanj hath this 
grace been vouchsafed ; and it is because you have been the 
cause of my conversion, that I pardon you. Tell the Muslims 
that they may come to our country, and that we Muslims like 
themselves will treat them as brothers." * 

1 Kitabu 'aja'ibi-1 Hind ou Livre des Merveilles de 1'Inde, public par P.A. van 
derLith. pp. 51-60. (Leiden, 1883.) 


From the same source we learn that even at this early period, 
this coast-land was frequented by large numbers of Arab traders, 
yet in spite of centuries of intercourse with the followers of Islam, 
the original inhabitants of this coast (with the exception of the 
Somalis) have been remarkably little influenced by this religion. 
Even before the Portuguese conquests of the sixteenth century, 
what few conversions had been made, seem to have been wholly 
confined to the sea-border, and even after the decline of Portu- 
guese influence in this part of the world, and the restoration of 
Arab rule under the Sayyids of Oman, hardly any efforts have 
been made to spread the knowledge of Islam among the tribes of 
the interior, with the exception of the Galla and Somali. As a 
modern traveller has said : " During the three expeditions which 
I conducted in East Central Africa I saw nothing to suggest 
Mohammedanism as a civilising power. Whatever living force 
might be in the religion remained latent. The Arabs, or their 
descendants, in these parts were not propagandists. There were 
no missionaries to preach Islam, and the natives of Muscat were 
content that their slaves should conform, to a certain extent, to 
the forms of the religion. They left the East African tribes, who 
indeed, in their gross darkness, were evidently content to remain 
in happy ignorance. Their inaptitude for civilisation was 
strikingly shown in the strange fact that five hundred years of 
contact with semi-civilised people had left them without the 
faintest reflection of the higher traits which characterised their 
neighbours not a single good seed during all these years had 
struck root and flourished." 1 Given up wholly to the pursuits of 
commerce or to slave-hunting, the Arabs in Eastern Africa have 
exhibited a lukewarmness in promoting the interests of their 
faith, which is in striking contrast to the missionary zeal displayed 
by their co-religionists in other parts of Africa. 2 One powerful 
obstacle, however, in the way of the progress of Islam among 
most of the tribes of East Equatorial Africa, is doubtless the 
remarkable lack of religious sentiment which characterises them. 
For further north, in Uganda, the inhabitants of which are not 

1 Mohammedanism in Central Africa, by Joseph Thomson, p. 877. 

2 Islam is still however gaining ground in German East Africa among the people 
of Bonded and the Wadigo (a little inland from the coast), among whom Swahili 
schoolmasters carry on a lively and successful mission work. (Oscar Baumann : 
Usambara und seine Nachbargebiete, pp. 141, 153.) (Berlin, 1891.) 


similarly insensible to religious influences, the Arabs from 
Zanzibar have succeeded in gaining some converts to Islam. 

Islam has been more successful among the Galla and the Somali. 
Mention has already been made of the Galla settlements in 
Abyssinia : these immigrants, who are divided into seven prin- 
cipal clans, with the generic name of Wollo-Galla, were probably 
all heathen at the time of their incursion into the country, 1 and 
the majority of them remain so to the present day. After settling 
in Abyssinia they soon became naturalised there, and in many 
instances adopted the language, manners and customs of the 
original inhabitants of the country. 2 

The story of their conversion is obscure : while some of them 
are said to have been forcibly baptised into the Christian faith, 
the absence of any political power in the hands of the Muham- 
madans precludes the possibility of any converts to Islam having 
been made in a similar fashion. In the last century, those in the 
south were said to be mostly Muhammadans, those to the east 
and west chiefly pagans. 3 More recent information points to a 
further increase in the number of the followers of the Prophet, 
and as they are said to be M very fanatical," we may presume that 
they are by no means half-hearted or lukewarm in their adhe- 
rence to this religion. 4 Among the Galla tribes of the true Galla 
country, the population is partly Muhammadan and partly 
heathen, with the exception of those tribes immediately border- 
ing on Abyssinia, who have been recently forced by the late king 
of that country to accept Christianity. 5 Among the mountains, 
the Muhammadans are in a minority, but on the plains the 
missionaries of Islam have met with striking success, and their 
teaching has found a rapidly increasing acceptance during the 
present century. Antonio Cecchi, who visited the petty kingdom 

1 A contemporary Ethiopic account of these tribes, Geschichte der Galla. 
Bericht eines abessinischen Monches iiber die Invasion der Galla in sechzehnten 
Jahrhundert. Text und tlbersetzung hrsg, von. A. W. Schleichler- (Berlin, 
1893) seems certainly to represent them as heathen, though no detailed account 
is given of their religion. Reclus (Tome x. p. 330) however supposes them to 
have been Muhammadan at the time of their invasion. 

2 Henry Salt : A Voyage to Abyssinia, p. 299. (London, 1814.) 

8 James Bruce: Travels to discover the source of the Nile, 2nd ed. vol. iii, 
p. 243. (Edinburgh, 1805.) 

4 I. L. Krapf: Reisen in Ost-Africa, ausgefuhrt in den Jahren 1837.55, vol. i. 
p. 106. (Kornthal, 1858.) 

6 Reclus. Tome x. p. 309. 


ofLimmu in 1878, gives an account of the conversion of Abba 
Baghibo, 1 the father of the reigning chieftain, by Muhammadans 
who for some years had been pushing their proselytising efforts 
in this country in the guise of traders. His example was followed 
by the chiefs of the neighbouring Galla kingdoms and by the 
officers of their courts ; part of the common people have also 
been won over to the new faith, and it is still making progress 
among them, but the greater part cling firmly to their ancient 
cult. 2 These traders received a ready welcome at the courts of 
the Galla chiefs, inasmuch as they found them a market for the 
commercial products of the country and imported objects of 
foreign manufacture in exchange. As they made their journeys 
to the coast once a year only, or even once in two years, and 
lived all the rest of the time in the Galla country, they had plenty 
of opportunities, which they knew well how to avail themselves 
of, for the work of propagating Islam, and wherever they set their 
foot they were sure in a short space of time to gain a large number 
of proselytes. 3 Islam has here come in conflict with Christian 
missionaries from Europe, whose efforts, though winning for 
Christianity a few converts, have been crowned with very little 
success, 4 even the converts of Cardinal Massaja (after he was 
expelled from these parts) either embraced Islam or ended by 
believing neither in Christ nor in Allah, 5 whereas the Muslim 
missionaries have achieved a continuous success, and have now 
pushed their way far to the south, and have lately crossed the 
Wabi river. 6 The majority of the Galla tribes dwelling in the 
west of the Galla country are still heathen, but among the most 
westerly of them, viz. the Lega, 7 the old nature worship appears 
to be on the decline and the growing influence of the Muslim 
missionaries makes it probable that within a few years the Lega 

1 When the Roman Catholics opened a mission among the Gallas in 1846, 
Abba Baghibo said to them : "Had you come thirty years ago, not only I, but 
all my countrymen might have embraced your religion ; but now it is impossible." 
(Massaja, vol. iv. p. 103.) 

2 Da Zeila alle frontiere del Caffa, vol. ii. p. 160. (Rome, 1886-7.) 
Massaja, vol. iv. p. 103 ; vol. vi. p. 10. 

3 Massaja, vol. iv. p. 102. 

4 Speaking of the failure of Christian missions, Cecchi says : "di cio si deve 
ricercave la causa nello espandersi che fece quaggiu in questi ultimi anni l'islamismo, 
portato da centinaja di preti e mercanti musulmani, cui non facevano difetto i 
m "zzi, l'astuzia e la piena conoscenza della lingua. (Op. cit. vol. ii. p. 342.) 

6 Id. p. 343. 6 Reclus. Tome xiii. p. 834. 

7 The Lega are found in long. 9 to 9 30' and lat. E. 34 35' to 35 . 


will all have entered into the pale of Islam. 1 The North-East 
Africa of the present day presents indeed the spectacle of a 
remarkably energetic and zealous missionary activity on the part 
of the Muhammadans. Several hundreds of missionaries come 
from Arabia every year, and they have been even more successful 
in their labours among the Somali than among the Galla. 2 The 
close proximity of the Somali country to Arabia must have caused 
it very early to have been the scene of Muhammadan missionary 
labours, but of these unfortunately little record seems to have 
survived. The Somalis of the north have a tradition of a certain 
Arab of noble birth who, compelled to flee his own country, 
crossed the sea to Adel, where he preached the faith of Islam 
among their forefathers. 8 In the fifteenth century a band of 
forty-four Arabs came as missionaries from Hadramawt, landing 
at Berberah on the Red Sea, and thence dispersed over the 
Somali country to preach Islam. One of them, Shaykli Ibrahim 
Abu Zarbay, made his way to the city of Harar about 1430 a.d., 
and gained many converts there, and his tomb is still honoured 
in that city. A hill near Berberah is still called the Mount of 
Saints in memory of these missionaries, who are said to have sat 
there in solemn conclave before scattering far and wide to the 
work of conversion.* 

In order to complete this survey of Islam in Africa, it remains 
only to draw attention to the fact that this religion has also made 
its entrance into the extreme south of this continent, viz. in Cape 
Coast Colony. These Muhammadans of the Cape are descendants 
of Malays, who were brought here by the Dutch 5 either in the 
seventeenth or eighteenth century ; they speak a corrupt form of 
the Boer dialect, with a considerable admixture of Arabic, and 
some English and Malay words. A curious little book published 
in this dialect and written in Arabic characters was published in 
Constantinople in 1877 by the Turkish minister of education, to 
serve as a handbook of the principles of the Muslim faith. 8 The 

1 Reclus. Tome x. p. 350. * Paulirschke, pp. 330-1. 

3 Documents sur l'histoire, la g^ographie et le commerce de PAfrique Orientale, 
recueillis par M. Guillain. Deuxieme Partie. Tome i. p. 399. ( Paris, 1856.) 

4 R. F. Burton : First Footprints in East Africa, pp. 76, 404. (London, 1856.) 

5 The Cape of Good Hope was in the possession of the Dutch from 1652 to 
1795 J restored to them after the Peace of Amiens in 1802, it was re-occupied by 
the British as soon as war broke out again 

6 M. J. de Goeje : Mohammedaansche Propaganda, pp. 2, 6. (Overgedrukt 
uit de Nederlandsche Spectator, No. 51, 188 1.) 


thoroughly Dutch names that some of them bear, and the type 
of face observable in many of them, point to the probability that 
they have at some time received into their community some 
persons of Dutch birth, or at least that they have in their veins 
a considerable admixture of Dutch blood. They have also gained 
some converts from among the Hottentots. Very little notice 
has been taken of them by European travellers, 1 or even by their 
co-religionists until recently ; but during the last thirty years 
they have been visited by some zealous Musalmans from other 
countries, and more attention is now paid by them to education, 
and a deeper religious life has been stirred up among them. 
Every year some of them make the pilgrimage to Mecca, where a 
special Shaykh has been appointed to look after them. 2 The 
Indian coolies that come to work in the diamond fields of South 
Africa are also said to be propagandists of Islam. 3 

From the historical sketch given above it may be seen that 
peaceful methods have characterised on the whole the Muham- 
madan missionary movement in Africa, and though Islam has 
often taken the sword as an instrument to further its spiritual 
conquests, such an appeal to violence and bloodshed has in most 
cases been preceded by the peaceful efforts of the missionary, and 
the preacher has followed the conqueror to complete the im- 
perfect work of conversion. It is true that the success of Islam 
has been very largely facilitated in many parts of Africa by the 
worldly successes of Muhammadan adventurers, and the erection 
of Muhammadan states on the ruins of pagan kingdoms, and fire 
and bloodshed have often marked the course of a Jihad, pro- 
jected for the extermination of the infidel. The words of the 
young Arab from Bornu whom Captain Burton 4 met in the 
palace of the king of Abeokuta doubtless express the aspirations 
of many an African Muhammadan : " Give those guns and 
powder to us, and we will soon Islamise these dogs " : and they 
find an echo in the message that Mungo Park 5 gives us as having 
been sent by the Muslim King of Futah Toro to his pagan 

1 Attention was drawn to them in 18 14 by a Mr. Campell. See William Adams : 
The Modern Voyager and Traveller, vol. i. p. 93. (London, 1834.) 

2 C. Snouck Hurgronje (3), vol. ii. pp. 296-7. 

3 Jacques Bonzon : Les Missionaires de l'lslam en Afrique. (Revue Chretienne. 
Tome xiii. p. 295.) (Paris, 1893.) 

4 Richard F. Burton (1), vol. i. p. 256. 

5 Travels in the Interior of Africa, chap. xxv. ad Jin. 


neighbour : " With this knife Abdulkader will condescend to 
shave the head of Damel, if Darnel will embrace the Mahommedan 
faith ; and with this other knife Abdulkader will cut the throat 
of Damel, if Damel refuses to embrace it ; take your choice." 

But much as Islam may have owed to the martial prowess of 
such fanatics as these, there is the overwhelming testimony of 
travellers and others to the peaceful missionary preaching, and 
quiet and persistent labours of the Muslim propagandist, which 
have done more for the rapid spread of Islam in modern Africa 
than any violent measures : by the latter its opponents may 
indeed have been exterminated, but by the former chiefly, have 
its converts been made, and the work of conversion may still be 
observed in progress in many regions of the coast and the 
interior. 1 Wherever Islam has made it way, there is the 
Muhammadan missionary to be found bearing witness to its 
doctrines, the trader, be he Arab, Fulah or Mandingo, who 
combines proselytism with the sale of his merchandise, and whose 
very profession brings him into close and immediate contact with 
those he would convert, and disarms any possible suspicion of 
sinister motives ; such a man when he enters a pagan village soon 
attracts attention by his frequent ablutions and regularly re- 
curring times of prayer and prostration, in which he appears to 
be conversing with some invisible being, and by his very assump- 
tion of intellectual and moral superiority, commands the respect 
and confidence of the heathen people, to whom at the same time 
he shows himself ready and willing to communicate his high 
privileges and knowledge ; the haji or pilgrim who has returned 
from Mecca full of enthusiasm for the spread of the faith, to 
which he devotes his whole energies, wandering about from place 
to place, supported by the alms of the faithful that bear witness 
to the truth in the midst of their pagan neighbours ; the 
student who has pursued his studies at the mosque of Al Azhar 
in Cairo, and in consequence of his knowledge of Islamic theology 
and law, receives honour as a man of learning : sometimes, too, 
he practises medicine, or at least he is in great requisition as a 
writer of charms, texts from the Qur'an, which are sewn up in 
pieces of leather or cloth and tied on the arms, or round the 

1 D. J. East, pp. 1 18-120. W. Winwood Reade, vol. i. p. 312. 
Riyden, pp. 13, 202. 


neck, and which he can turn to account as a means of adding to 
the number of his converts : for instance, when childless women 
or those who have lost their children in infancy, apply for these 
charms, as a condition of success the obligation is always imposed 
upon them of bringing up their future children as Muham- 
madans. 1 These religious teachers, or marabuts, or alufas as they 
are variously termed, are held in the highest estimation. In 
some tribes of Western Africa every village contains a lodge for 
their reception, and they are treated with the utmost deference 
and respect : in Darfur they hold the highest rank after those 
who fill the offices of government : among the Mandingos they 
rank still higher, and receive honour next to the king, the subor- 
dinate chiefs being regarded as their inferiors in point of dignity: 
in those states in which the Qur'an is made the rule of govern- 
ment in all civil matters, their services are in great demand, in 
order to interpret its meaning. So sacred are the persons of 
these teachers esteemed, that they pass without molestation 
through the countries of chiefs, not only hostile to each other, 
but engaged in actual warfare. Such deference is not only paid 
to them in Muhammadan countries, but also in the pagan villages 
in which they establish their schools, where the people respect 
them as the instructors of their children, and look upon them as 
the medium between themselves and Heaven, either for securing 
a supply of their necessities, or for warding off or removing 
calamities. 2 Many of these teachers have studied in the mosques 
of Qayrwan, Fas, Tripolis 3 and other centres of Muslim learning ; 
but if Islam may be said to possess a missionary college, it is the 
mosque of Al Azhar that best deserves this name. Students 
flock to it from all parts of the Muslim world, and among them 
is always to be found a contingent from Negro Africa, students 
from Darfur, Wadai and Bornu, and some who even make their 
way on foot from the far distant West Coast ; when they have 
finished their courses of study in Muslim theology and juris- 
prudence, there are many of them who become missionaries 

1 Bishop Crowther on Islam in Western Africa. (Church Missionary Intelli- 
gencer, p. 254, April, 1888.) 

2 D.J. East, pp. 112-13. 
Blyden, p. 202. 

8 It is said that over a thousand missionaries of Islam leave Tripolis every year 
to work in the Sudan. (Paulitschke, p. 331.) 


among the heathen population of their native land. The number 
of students at this college shows a constant increase. When Dr. 
Dollinger * visited Cairo about 1838 their number was so low as 
500, but since then there has been a gradual rise, and in 
1884 there were as many as 12,025 students on the rolls. 3 
Schools are established by these missionaries in the towns they 
visit, which are frequented by the pagan as well as the Muslim 
children. They are taught to read the Qur'an, and instructed in 
the doctrines and ceremonies of Islam. Having thus gained a 
footing, the Muhammadan missionary, by his superior knowledge 
and attainments, is not slow to obtain great influence over the 
people among whom he has come to live. In this he is aided by 
the fact that his habits and manner of life are similar in many 
respects to their own, nor is he looked upon with suspicion, in- 
asmuch as the trader has already prepared the way :for him ; and 
by intermarriage with the natives, being thus received into their 
social system, his influence becomes firmly rooted and permanent, 
and so in the most natural manner he gradually causes the 
knowledge of Islam to spread among them. The arrival of the 
Muhammadan in a pagan country is also the beginning of the 
opening up of a more extensive trade, and of communication with 
great Muhammadan trading centres such as Segu and Kano, and 
a share in the advantages of this material civilisation is offered, 
together with the religion of the Prophet. Thus "among the 
uncivilised negro tribes the missionary may be always sure of a 
ready audience : he can not only give them many truths regard- 
ing God and man which make their way to the heart and elevate 
the intellect, but he can at once communicate the Shibboleth of 
admission to a social and political communion, which is a passport 
for protection and assistance from the Atlantic to the Wall of 
China. Wherever a Moslem house can be found there the negro 
convert who can repeat the dozen syllables of his creed, is sure of 
shelter, sustenance and advice, and in his own country he finds 
himself at once a member of an influential, if not of a dominant 
caste. This seems the real secret of the success of the Moslem 
missionaries in West Africa. It is great and rapid as regards 
numbers, for the simple reason that the Moslem missionary, from 

1 Mohammed's Religion, p. 144. 

8 Annates da l'Extrwne Orient et de I'Afrique, p. 341. (Mni, 18S4. ) 


the very first proression of the convert's belief, acts practically on 
those principles regarding the equality and brotherhood of all 
believers before God, which Islam shares with Christianity ; and 
he does this, as a general rule more speedily and decidedly than 
the Christian missionary, who generally feels bound to require 
good evidence of a converted heart before he gives the right hand 
of Christian fellowship, and who has always to contend with race 
prejudices not likely to die out in a single generation where the 
white Christian has for generations been known as master, and 
the black heathen as slave." l 

It is important, too, to note that neither his colour nor his race 
in any way prejudice the Negro in the eyes of his new co- 
religionists. The progress of Islam in Negritia has no doubt been 
materially advanced by this absence of any feeling of repulsion 
towards the Negro indeed Islam seems never to have treated 
the Negro as an inferior, as has been unhappily too often the 
case in Christendom. 2 According to Muhammadan tradition 
Moses was a black man, as may be seen from the following 
passages in the Qur'an. M Now draw thy hand close to thy side : 
it shall come forth white, but unhurt : another sign ! " (xx. 23). 
w Then drew he forth his hand, and lo ! it was white to the be- 
holders. The nobles of Pharaoh's people said : i Verily this is an 
expert enchanter.' " (vii. 105, 6). The following story also, handed 
down to us from the golden period of the 'Abbasid dynasty, is 
interesting as evidence of Muhammadan feeling with regard to 

1 Sir Bartle Frere (1), pp. 18-19. 

3 E. W. Blyden, pp. 18-24. 

In a very interesting, but nowc orgotten, debate before the Anthropological 
Society of London, on the Efforts of Missionaries among Savages, a case was men- 
tioned of a Christian missionary in Africa who married a negress : the feeling 
against him in consequence was so strong that he had to leave the colony. The 
Muslim missionary labours under no such disadvantage. (Journal of the Anthro- 
pological Society of London, vol. iii. 1865.) 

The contrast between the way in which Christianity and Islam present them- 
selves to the African is well brought out by one who is himself a Negro, in the 
following passage : " Tandis que les missions renvoient a une epoque indefinie 
l'etablissement du pastorat indigene, les pretres musulmans penetrent dans 
l'interieur de l'Afrique, trouvent un acces facile chez les paiens et les convertissent 
a l'islam. De sorte qu'aujourdhui les negres regardent 1'islam comme la religion 
des noirs, et le christianisme comme la religion des blancs. Le christianisme, 
pensent-ils, appelle le negre au salut, mais lui assigne une place tellement basse 
que, decourage, il se dit : ' Je n'ai ni part ni portion dans cette affaire.' L'islam 
appelle le negre au salut et lui dit : ' II ne depend que de toi pour arriver aussi 
haut que possible.' Alors, le negre enthousiasme se livre corps et ame au service 
de cette religion." L'islam et le christianisme en Afrique d'apres un Africain. 
(Journal des Missions Evangiliques. 63 e * annee, p. 207.) (Paris, l838.) 



the Negro. Ibrahim, a brother of Harunu-r Rashid and the 
son of a negress, had proclaimed himself Caliph at Baghdad, but 
was defeated and forgiven by Al Ma'mun, who was then reigning 
(819 a.d.). He thus describes his interview with the Caliph : 
" Al Ma'mun said to me on my going to see him after having 
obtained pardon : ' Is it thou who art the Negro Khalifah ? ' to 
which I replied : ( Commander of the faithful ! I am he whom 
thou hast deigned to pardon ; and it has been said by the slave 
of Banu-1 Hashas : " When men extol their worth, the slave of 
the family of Hashas can supply, by his verses, the defect of birth 
and fortune." Though I be a slave, my soul, through its noble 
nature, is free ; though my body be dark, my mind is fair.' " 

To this Al Ma'mun replied : " Uncle ! a jest of mine has put 
you in a serious mood." He then spoke these verses : 

" Blackness of skin cannot degrade an ingenious mind, or lessen 
the worth of the scholar and the wit. Let darkness claim the 
colour of your body : I claim as mine your fair and candid soul." \ 

So that the converted Negro at once takes an equal place in 
the brotherhood of believers, neither his colour nor his race nor 
any associations of the past standing in the way. It is doubtless 
the ready admission they receive, that makes the pagan Negroes 
willing to enter into a religious society whose higher civilisation 
demands that they should give up many of their old barbarous 
habits and customs ; at the same time the very fact that the 
acceptance of Islam does imply an advance in civilisation and is 
a very distinct step in the intellectual, moral and material pro- 
gress of a Negro tribe, helps very largely to explain the success 
of this faith. The forces arrayed on its side are so powerful and 
ascendant, that the barbarism, ignorance and superstition which 
it seeks to sweep away have little chance of making a lengthened 
resistance. What the civilisation of Muslim Africa implies to 
the Negro convert, is admirably expressed in the following 
words : " The worst evils which, there is reason to believe, pre- 
vailed at one time over the whole of Africa, and which are still 
to be found in many parts of it, and those, too, not far from the 
Gold Coast and from our own settlements cannibalism and 
human sacrifice and the burial of living infants disappear at 
once and for ever. Natives who have hitherto lived in a state 

1 Ibn Kfcallikan, vol. i. p. 18. 


of nakedness, or nearly so, begin to dress, and that neatly ; 
natives who have never washed before begin to wash, and that 
frequently ; for ablutions are commanded in the Sacred Law, 
and it is an ordinance which does not involve too severe a strain 
on their natural instincts. The tribal organisation tends to give 
place to something which has a wider basis. In other words, 
tribes coalesce into nations, and, with the increase of energy and 
intelligence, nations into empires. Many such instances could 
be adduced from the history of the Soudan and the adjoining 
countries during the last hundred years. If the warlike spirit 
is thus stimulated, the centres from which war springs are fewer 
in number and further apart. War is better organised, and is 
under some form of restraint ; quarrels are not picked for 
nothing ; there is less indiscriminate plundering and greater 
security for property and life. Elementary schools, 1 like those 
described by Mungo Park a century ago, spring up, and even if 
they only teach their scholars to recite the Koran, they are worth 
something in themselves, and may be a step to much more- 
The well-built and neatly-kept mosque, with its call to prayer 
repeated five times a day, its Mecca-pointing niche, its Imam 
and its weekly service, becomes the centre of the village, instead 
of the ghastly fetish or Juju house. The worship of one God, 
omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and compassionate, is an 
immeasurable advance upon anything which the native has been 

1 " In every Mohammedan town there is a public school and a public library. 
The public library consists chiefly of different copies of the Koran, some of them 
beautiful specimens of caligraphy. They have also very frequently the Arabic 
version of the Pentateuch, which they call Torat Mousa : the Psalms of David, el 
Zabour Dawidi ; and even the Gospel of Jesus, el Indjil Isa. They also preserve 
public registers and records." W. Winwood Reade : Savage Africa, p. 580. 

*' Extracts from the Koran form the earliest reading lessons of children, and the 
commentaries and other works founded upon it furnish the principal subjects of 
the advanced studies. Schools of different grades have existed for centuries in 
various interior negro countries, and under the provision of law, in which even the 
poor are educated at the public expense, and in which the deserving are carried on 
many years through long courses of regular instruction. Nor is the system always 
confined to the Arabic language, or to the works of Arabic writers. A number 
of native languages have been reduced to writing, books have been translated 
from the Arabic, and original works have been written in them. Schools also 
have been kept in which native languages are taught." Condition and Character 
of Negroes in Africa. By Theodore Dwight. (Methodist Quarterly Review, 
January, 1869.) 

Dr. Blyden (p. 206-7) mentions the following books as read by Muslims in 
Western Africa : Maqamat of Hariri, portions of Aristotle and Plato translated 
into Arabic, an Arabic version* of Hippocrates, and the Arabic New Testament 
and Psalms issued by the American Bible Society. 

U 2 


taught to worship before. The Arabic language, in which the 
Mussulman scriptures are always written, is a language of extra- 
ordinary copiousness and beauty ; once learned it becomes a 
lingua franca to the tribes of half the continent, and serves as an 
introduction to literature, or rather, it is a literature in itself. 
It substitutes moreover, a written code of law for the arbitrary 
caprice of a chieftain a change which is, in itself, an immense 
advance in civilisation. Manufactures and commerce spring up, 
not the dumb trading or the elementary bartering of raw products 
which we know from Herodotus to have existed from the earliest 
times in Africa, nor the cowrie shells, or gunpowder, or tobacco, 
or rum, which still serve as a chief medium of exchange all along 
the coast, but manufactures involving considerable skill, and a 
commerce which is elaborately organised ; and under their in- 
fluence, and that of the more settled government which Islam 
brings in its train, there have arisen those great cities of Negro- 
land whose very existence, when first they were described by 
European travellers, could not but be half discredited. 

"lam far from saying that the religion is the sole cause of all 
this comparative prosperity. I only say it is consistent with it, 
and it encourages it. Climatic conditions and various other 
influences co-operate towards the result ; but what has Pagan 
Africa, even where the conditions are very similar, to compare 
with it ? 

" As regards the individual, it is admitted on all hands that 
Islam gives to its new Negro converts an energy, a dignity, a 
self-reliance, and a self-respect which is all too rarely found in 
their Pagan or their Christian fellow-countrymen." l 

1 Mohammedanism in Africa, by R. Bosworth Smith. (The Nineteenth ^s 

Century, December 1887, pp. 798-800.) 


may therefore conjecture with tolerable certainty that they must 
have established their commercial settlements on some of the 
islands of the Malay Archipelago, as they did elsewhere, at a very 
early period : though no mention is made of these islands in the 
works of the Arab geographers earlier than the ninth century, 1 
yet in the Chinese annals, under the date 674 a.d. an account is 
given of an Arab chief, who from later notices is conjectured to 
have been the head of an Arab settlement on the west coast of 
Sumatra. 2 

Missionaries must also, however, have come to the Malay 
Archipelago from the south of India, judging from certain pecu- 
liarities of Muhammadan theology adopted by the islanders. 
Most of the Musalmans of the Archipelago belong to the 
Shafi'iyah sect, which is at the present day predominant on the 
Coromandel and Malabar coasts, as was the case also about the 
middle of the fourteenth century when Ibn Batutah visited these 
parts. 3 So when we consider that the Muhammadans of the 
neighbouring countries belong to the Hanafiyah sect, we can only 
explain the prevalence of Shafi'iyah teachings by assuming them 
to have been brought thither from the Malabar coast, the ports 
of which were frequented by merchants from -Java, as well as 
from China, Yaman and Persia. 4 From India, too, or from 
Persia, must have come the Shi'ism, of which traces are still 
found in Java and Sumatra. From Ibn Batutah we learn that 
the Muhammadan Sultan of Samudra had entered into friendly 
relations with the court of Dehli, and among the learned doctors 
of the law whbm this devout prince especially favoured, there 
were two of Persian origin, the one coming from Shiraz and the 
other from Ispahan. 5 But long before this time merchants from 
the Deccan, through whose hands passed the trade between the 
Mussalman states of India and the Malay Archipelago, had estab- 
lished themselves in large numbers in the trading ports of these 
islands, where they sowed the seed of the new religion. 6 

It is to the proselytising efforts of these Arab and Indian 

1 Reinaud : G6ographie d'Aboulf^da. Tome i. p. cccxxxix. 

2 Groeneveldt, pp. 14, 15. 8 Ibn Batutah. Tome iv. pp. 66, 80. 

* Veth (3), vol. it. p. 185. 

Ibn Batutah. Tome iv. p. 89. 
' Ibn Batutah. Tome iv. pp. 230, 234. 

Snouck Hurgronje (1), pp. 8-9. 



I merchants that the native Muhammadan population, which we 
find already in the earliest historical notices of Islam in these 
parts, owes its existence. Settling in the centres of commerce, 
they intermarried with the people of the land, and these heathen 
wives and the slaves of their households thus formed the nucleus 
of a Muslim community which its members made every effort in 
their power to increase. The following description of the methods 
adopted by these merchant missionaries in the Philippine Islands, 
gives a picture of what was no doubt the practice of many 
preceding generations of Muhammadan traders : " The better 
to introduce their religion into the country, the Muhammadans 
adopted the language and many of the customs of the natives, married 
their women, purchased slaves in order to increase their personal 
importance, and succeeded finally in incorporating themselves 
among the chiefs who held the foremost rank in the state. Since 
they worked together with greater ability and harmony than the 
natives, they gradually increased their power more and more, as 
having numbers of slaves in their possession, they formed a kind 
of confederacy among themselves and established a sort of 
monarchy, which they made hereditary in one family. Though 
such a confederacy gave them great power, yet they felt the 
necessity of keeping on friendly terms with the old aristocracy, 
and of ensuring their freedom to those classes whose support they 
could not afford to dispense with." 1 It must have been in some 
such way as this that the different Muhammadan settlements in 
the Malay Archipelago laid a firm political and social basis for 
their proselytising efforts. They did not come as conquerors, 
like the Spanish in the sixteenth century, or use the sword as an 
instrument of conversion ; nor did they arrogate to themselves 
the privileges of a superior and dominant race so as to degrade 
and oppress the original inhabitants, but coming simply in the 
guise of traders they employed all their superior intelligence and 
civilisation in the service of their religion, rather than as a means 
towards their personal aggrandisement and the amassing of wealth. 2 
With this general statement of the subsidiary means adopted by 
them, let us follow in detail their proselytising efforts through 
the various islands in turn. 

1 Padre Gainza, quoted by C. Semper, p. 67. 

2 Crawfurd (2), vol. ii. p. 265. 


Sumatra. Xhe nearest point of the Malay Archipelago to Arabia, where 

" consequently we should expect to find the first signs of Muham- 

madan influence, is the north coast of Sumatra. According to 
the Malay chronicles, Islam was first introduced into Atjih, on the t 
extreme north-west promontory of the island, about the middle or j 
the twelfth century, by an Arab missionary named Shaykh f 
'Abdu-llah 'Arif ; so successful was the propaganda he instituted 
that by 1 177 the preaching of one of his disciples, Burhanu-d Din, 
had carried the knowledge of the faith down the west coast as 
far south as Priaman. There were doubtless many other 
labourers in the same field, of whom no record has come down to 
us ; but the name of one Johan (? Jahan) Shah, has been handed 
down as the traditionary founder of the Muhammadan dynasty of 
Atjih : he is said to have been a stranger from the West, who 
came to these shores to preach the faith of the Prophet : here 
he made many proselytes, married a wife from among the inha- 
bitants of the country and was hailed by them as their king, under 
the half-Sanskrit, half-Arabic title of Sri Paduka Sultan. 1 

It seems very possible that the success of this mission was 
short-lived and that the work was not continued, since Marco 
Polo, who spent five months on the north coast of Sumatra in 
1292, speaks of all the inhabitants being idolaters, except in the 
petty kingdom of Parlak on the north-east corner of the island, 
where, too, only the townspeople were Muhammadans, for " this 
kingdom, you must know, is so much frequented by the Saracen 
merchants that they have converted the natives to the Law of 
Mahomet," but the hill-people were all idolaters and cannibals. 2 
Further, one of the Malay chronicles says that it was Sultan 
'All Mughayyat Shah who reigned over Atjih from 1507 to 1522, 
who first set the example of embracing Islam, in which he was 
followed by his subjects. 3 But it is not improbable that the 
honour of being the first Muslim ruler of the state, has been 
here attributed as an added glory to the monarch who founded 
the greatness of Atjih and began to extend its sway over the 
neighbouring country, and that he rather effected a revival of, 
or imparted a fresh impulse to, the religious life of his subjects 
than gave to them their first knowledge of the faith of the 

1 De Hollander, rol. i. p. 581. Veth (1), p. 60. 

1 Yule's Marcc Polo, vol. ii. p. 227. * Veth (1), p. 61. 


Prophet. For Islam had certainly set lirm foot in Sumatra long 
before his time. 

In the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Sharif of 
Mecca sent a mission to convert the people of Sumatra. The 
leader of the party was a certain Shaykh Isma'il : the first 
place on the island at which they touched, after leaving Malabar, 
was Pasuri (probably situated a little way down the west coast), 
the people of which were persuaded by their preaching to 
embrace Islam. They then proceeded northward to Lambri and 
then coasted round to the other side of the island and sailed 
as far down the east coast as Aru, nearly opposite Malacca, and 
in both of these places their efforts were crowned with a 
like success. At Aru they made inquiries for Samudra, a 
city on the north coast of the island which seems to have been 
the special object of their mission, and found that they had passed 
it. Accordingly they retraced their course to Parlak, where 
Marco Polo had found a Muhammadan community a few 
years before, and having gained fresh converts here also, they 
went on to Samudra. This city and the kingdom of the same 
name had lately been founded by a certain Mara Silu, who was 
persuaded by Shaykh, Isma'il to embrace Islam, and took the 
name of Maliku-s Salih. He married the daughter of the king of 
Parlak, by whom he had two sons, and in order to have a princi- 
pality to leave to each, he founded the Muhammadan city and 
kingdom of Pasei, also on the north coast. 1 When Ibn Batutah 
visited the island in 1345, he found the elder of these sons, 
Maliku-z Zahir, reigning at Samudra. This prince displayed all 
the state of Muhammadan royalty, and his dominions extended 
for many days' journey along the coast ; he was a zealous and 
orthodox Muslim, fond of holding discussions with jurisconsults 
and theologians, and his court was frequented by poets and men 
of learning. Ibn Batutah gives us the names of two jurisconsults 
who had come thither from Persia and also of a noble who had 
gone on an embassy to Delhi on behalf of the king which shows 
that Sumatra was already in touch with several parts of the 
Muhammadan world. Maliku-z Zahir was also a great general, 
and made war on the heathen of the surrounding country until 
they submitted to his rule and paid tribute. 2 

1 Yule's Marco Polo, vol. ii. pp. 237, 245. 
1 Ibn Batutah. Tome iv. pp. 230-6. 


/ Islam had undoubtedly by this time made great progress in 
I Sumatra and after having established itself along the coast, began 
to make its way inland. The mission of Shaykh Isma'il and his 
party had borne fruit abundantly, for a Chinese traveller who 
visited the island in 141 3, speaks of Lambri as having a popula- 
tion of 1000 families, all of whom were Muslims u and very good 
people," while the king and people of the kingdom of Aru were 
all of the same faith. 1 It was either about the close of the same 
century or in the fifteenth century, that the religion of the 
Prophet found adherents in the great kingdom of Menangkabau, 
whose territory at one time extended from one shore to another, 
and over a great part of the island, N. and S. of the 
equator. 8 Though its power had by this time much declined, 
still as an ancient stronghold of Hinduism, it presented great 
obstacles in the way of the progress of the new religion. 
Despite this fact, Islam eventually took firmer root among the 
subjects of this kingdom than among the majority of the inha- 
bitants of the interior of the island. 8 It is very remarkable that 
this the most central people of the island should have been more 
thoroughly converted than the inhabitants of so many other 
districts that were more accessible to foreign influences. To the 
present day, the inhabitants of the Batta country are still heathen, 
with some few exceptions, e.g., some living on the borders of 
Atjih have been converted, by their Muhammadan neighbours, 4 
others dwelling in the mountains of the Rau country on the 
equator have likewise become Musalmans 5 ; on the east coast also 
conversions of Battas who come much in contact with Malays, 
are not uncommon. 6 In Central Sumatra there is still a large 
heathen population, though the majority of the inhabitants are 
Muslims ; but even these latter are very ignorant of their reli- 
gion, with the exception of a few hajis and religious teachers : 
even among thepeopleof Korintji who are for the most part zealous 
adherents of the faith, there are certain sections of the popula- 

1 Groeneveldt, p. 94. 

2 At the height of its power, it stretched from 2 N. to 2 S. on the west coast, 
rnd from i N. to 2 S. on the east coast, but in the sixteenth century it had lost 
its control over the east coast. (De Hollander, vol. i. p. 3.) 

3 Marsden, p. 343. 4 J. H. Moor. (Appendix, p. 1.) 

5 Marsden, p. 355. 

6 Godsdienstige verschijnselen en toestanden in Oost-Indic. (Uit de koloniale 
verslagen van 1886 en 1887.) Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, vol. xxxii. pp. 175-6. 
(1 888.) 



tion who still worship the gods of their pagan ancestors. 1 
Efforts are, however, being made towards a religious revival and 
the Muslim missionaries are making fresh conquests from among 
the heathen, especially along the west coast. 3 In the district of 
Sipirok a religious teacher attached to the mosque in the town of 
the same name has, in a quarter of a century, converted the 
whole population of this district to Islam, with the exception of 
the Christians who are to be found there, mostly descendants 
of former slaves. 3 

The introduction of Islam into Palembang is so closely con- 
nected with the history of Java, that it will be more proper to 
speak of it when we give an account of that island. It was from 
Java that Islam was first brought into the Lampong districts 
that form the southern extremity of Sumatra, by a chieftain of 
these districts, named Minak Kamala Bumi. About the end of 
the fifteenth century, he crossed over the Strait of Sunda to the 
kingdom of Banten on the west coast of Java, which had accepted 
the teachings of the Muslim missionaries a few years before the 
date of his visit ; here he too embraced Islam, and after making 
the pilgrimage to Mecca, spread the knowledge of his newly 
adopted faith among his fellow-countrymen. 4. This religion has 
made considerable progress among the Lampongs, and most of 
their villages have mosques in them, but the old superstitions 
still linger on in parts of the interior. 5 

In the early part of this century a religious revival was set on 
foot in Sumatra, which was not without its influence in promot- 
ing the further propagation of Islam. In 1803 three Sumatran 
hajis returned from Mecca to their native country : during their 
stay in the holy city they had been profoundly influenced by the 
Wahhabi movement for the reformation of Islam, and were now 
eager to introduce the same reforms among their fellow-country- 
men and to stir up in them a purer and more zealous religious 
life. Accordingly they began to preach the strict monotheism 
of the Wahhabi sect, forbade prayers to saints, drinking and 
gambling and all other practices contrary to the law of the 

1 A. L. van Hassalt, pp. 55, 68. 

2 Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, id. p. 173. 

3 Uit het Koloniaal verslag van 1889. (Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, vol. xxxiv. 
p. 168.) (1890.) 

4 Canne, p. 510. 5 Marsden, p. 301. 


Qur'an. They made a number of proselytes both from among 
their co-religionists and the heathen population. They later 
declared a Jihad against the Battas, and in the hands of unscrupu- 
lous and ambitious men the movement lost its original character 
and degenerated into a savage and bloody war of conquest. In 
1 82 1 these so-called Padris came into conflict with the Dutch 
Government and it was not until 1838 that their last stronghold 
was taken and their power broken. 1 

JJ al ?y , All the civilised Malays of the Malay Peninsula trace their 
Peninsula. . . . . * * __ 

origin to migrations from Sumatra, especially from Menangkabau, 

the famous kingdom mentioned above, which is said at one time 
to have been the most powerful on the island ; some of the chiefs 
of the interior states of the southern part of the Malay Peninsula 
still receive their investiture from this place. At what period 
these colonies from the heart of Sumatra settled in the interior 
of the Peninsula, is matter of conjecture, but Singapore and the 
southern extremity of the Peninsula seem to have received a 
colony in the middle of the twelfth century, by the descendants 
of which Malacca was founded about a century later. 2 From its 
advantageous situation in the highway of eastern commerce it 
soon became a large and flourishing city, and there is little doubt 
. but that Islam was introduced by the Muhammadan merchants 
who settled here. 3 The Malay Chronicle of Malacca assigns the 
conversion of this kingdom to the reign of a certain Sultan 
Muhammad Shah who came to the throne in 1276. But the 
general character of this document makes its trustworthiness ex- 
ceedingly doubtful, 4 in spite of the likelihood that the date of so 
important an event would have been exactly noted (as was done 
in many parts of the Archipelago) by a people who, proud of the 
event, would look upon it as opening a new epoch in their 
history. A Portuguese historian gives a much later date, namely 
1388, in which year, he says, a Qadi came from Arabia and having 
converted the king, gave him the name of Muhammad after the 
Prophet, adding Shah to it. 5 

In the annals of Queda, one of the northernmost of the states 

1 Niemann, pp. 356-9. 2 J. H. Moor, p. 255. 

" Estes de mduzidos por os Mouros Parseos, e Guzarates, (que alii vieram residir 
por causa do commercio,) de Gentios os convertram a secta de Mahamed. Da 
qual conversao por alii concorrerem varias nacoes, comevou lavrar esta inferna 
I>este pela virzinhanca de Malaca." (De Barros. Dec. ii. Liv. vi. Cap. i. p. 15.) 

4 Crawfurd (1), pp. 241-2. 6 De Barros, Dec. iv. Liv. ii. Cap. 1. 


of the Malay Peninsula, we have a curious account of the intro- 
duction of Islam into this kingdom, about a.d. 1501, 1 which 
(divested of certain miraculous incidents) is as follows : A learned 
Arab, by name Shaykh 'Abdu-llah, having come to Queda, visited 
the Raja and inquired what was the religion of the country. 
" My religion," replied the Raja, " and that of all my subjects is 
that which has been handed down to us by the people of old. 
We all worship idols." * Then has your highness never heard 
of Islam, and of the Qur'an which descended from God to 
Muhammad, and has superseded all other religions, leaving them 
in the possession of the devil ? " "I pray you then, if this be 
true," said the Raja, " to instruct and enlighten us in this new 
faith." In a transport of holy fervour at this request, Shaykh 
'Abdu-llah embraced the Raja and then instructed him in the 
creed. Persuaded by his teaching, the Raja sent for all his jars 
of spirits (to which he was much addicted), and with his own 
hands emptied them on the ground. After this he had all the 
idols of the palace brought out ; the idols of gold, and silver, and 
clay, and wood were all heaped up in his presence, and were all 
broken and cut to pieces by Shaykh 'Abdu-llah with his sword 
and with an axe, and the fragments consumed in the fire. 

The Shaykh asked the Raja to assemble all his women of the 
fort and palace. When they all had come into the presence of the 
Raja and the Shaykh, they were initiated into the doctrines of 
Islam. The Shaykh was mild and courteous in his demeanour, 
persuasive and soft in his language, so that he gained the hearts 
of the inmates of the palace. 

The Raja soon after sent for his four aged ministers, who, on 
entering the hall, were surprised at seeing a Shaykh seated near 
the Raja. The Raja explained to them the object of the Shaykb/s 
coming ; whereupon the four chiefs expressed their readiness to 
follow the example of his highness, saying, " We hope that Shaykh 
'Abdu-llah will instruct us also." The latter hearing these words, 
embraced the four ministers and said that he hoped that, to prove 
their sincerity, they would send for all the people to come to the 
audience hall, bringing with them all the idols that they were 
wont to worship and the idols that had been handed down by the 

1 Barbosa, writing in 1516, speaks of the numerous Muhammadan merchants 
that frequented the port ot Queda, (Ramusio. Tom. i. p. 317.) 


men of former days. The request was complied with and all the 
idols kept by the people were at that very time brought down 
and there destroyed and burnt to dust ; no one was sorry at this 
demolition of their false gods, all were glad to enter the pale of 

ShayMi 'Abdu-llah after this said to the four ministers, " What 
is the name of your prince ? " They replied, " His name is 
Pra Ong Mahawangsa." " Let us change it for one in the 
language of Islam," said the ShayMi. After some consultation, 
the iname of the Raja was changed at his request to Sultan 
Muzlafu-1 Shah, because, the Shaykh averred, it is a celebrated 
name and is found in the Qur'an. 1 

The Raja now built mosques wherever the population was 
considerable, and directed that to each there should be attached 
forty-four of the inhabitants at least as a settled congregation, for 
a less number would have been few for the duties of religion. So 
mosques were erected and great drums were attached to them to 
be beaten to call the people to prayer on Fridays. Shay, 'Abdu- 
llah continued for some time to instruct the people in the 
religion of Islam ; they nocked to him from all the coasts and 
districts of Queda and its vicinity, and were initiated by him into 
its forms and ceremonies. 

The news of the conversion of the inhabitants of Queda by 
Shaykh 'Abdu-llah reached Atjih, and the Sultan of that country 
and a certain ShayJsk Nuru-d Din, an Arab missionary, who had 
come from Mecca, sent some books and a letter, which ran as 
follows : "This letter is from the Sultan of Atjih and Nuru-d 
Din to our brother the Sultan of Queda and Shaykh 'Abdu-llah 
of Yaman, now in Queda. We have sent two religious books, in 
order that the faith of Islam may be firmly established and the 
people fully instructed in their duties and in the rites of the 
faith." A letter was sent in reply by the Raja and Shay]& 
'Abdu-llah, thanking the donors. So Shaykh 'Abdu-llah re- 
doubled his efforts, and erected additional small mosques in all 
the different villages for general convenience, and instructed the 
people in all the rules and observances of the faith. 

1 The form Ulj. does not actually occur in the Qur'an ; reference is probably 

made to some such passage as xxvi. 90: y**^ i-^Y 1 i=**Jjlj "And paradise 
shall be brought aear the pious." 


The Raja and his wife were constantly with the Shay]&, learning 
to read the Qur'an. The royal pair searched also for some maiden 
of the lineage of the Raja's of the country, to be the Shayfch's 
wife. But no one could be found who was willing to give his 
daughter thus in marriage because the holy man was about to 
return to Baghdad, and only waited until he had sufficiently 
instructed some person to supply his place. 

Now at this time the Sultan had three sons, Raja Mu'azzim 
Shah, Raja Muhammad Shah, and Raja Sulayman Shah. These 
names had been borrowed from the Qur'an by Shaykh f Abdu-llah 
and bestowed upon the princes, whom he exhorted to be patient 
and slow to anger in their intercourse with their slaves and the 
lower orders, and to regard with pity all the slaves of God, and the 
poor and needy. 1 

It must not be supposed that the labours of Shaykh 'Abdu-llah 
were crowned with complete success, for we learn from the 
annals of Atjih that a Sultan of this country who conquered 
Queda in 1649, set himself to " more firmly establish the faith 
and destroy the houses of the Liar " or temples of idols. 3 Thus a 
century and a half elapsed before idolatry was completely rooted 

We possess no other details of the history of the conversion of 
the Malays of the Peninsula, but in many places the graves of the 
Arab missionaries who first preached the faith to them, are 
.honoured by these people. 3 Their long intercourse with the 
I Arabs and the Muslims of the East coast of India has made them 
Wery rigid observers of their religious duties, and they have the 
reputation of being the most exemplary Muhammadans of the 
Archipelago ; at the same time their constant contact with the 
Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and pagans of their own country 
has made them liberal and tolerant. They are very strict in 
the keeping of the fast of Ramadan and in performing the 
pilgrimage to Mecca. The religious interests of the people are 
always considered at the same time as their temporal welfare ; 
and when a village is found to contain more than forty houses 
and is considered to be of a size that necessitates its organisation 
and the appointment of the regular village officers, a public 

1 A translation of the Keddah annals, by Lieut.-Col. James Low, vol. iii. 
pp. 474-477- 

3 Id. p. 480. 3 Newbold, vol. i. p. 252. 


preacher is always included among the number and a mosque is 
formally built and instituted. 1 

In the North where the Malay states border on Siam, Islam has 
exercised considerable influence on the Siamese Buddhists ; those 
who have here been converted are called Samsams and speak a 
language that is a mixed jargon of the languages of the two 
people. 2 Converts are also made from among the wild tribes of 
the Peninsula. 3 
Java. We must now go back several centuries in order to follow 
out the history of the conversion of Java. The preaching and 
promulgation of the doctrines of Islam in this island were 
undoubtedly for a long time entirely the result of the labours 
of individual merchants or of the leaders of small colonies, for 
in Java there was no central Muhammadan power to throw 
in its influence on the side of the new religion or enforce the 
acceptance of it by warlike means. On the contrary, the Muslim 
missionaries came in contact with a Hindu civilisation, that had 
thrust its roots deep into the life of the country and had raised 
the Javanese to a high level of culture and progress expressing 
itself moreover in institutions and laws radically different to those 
, of Arabia. Even up to the present day, the Muhammadan law 
has failed to establish itself absolutely, even where the authority 
, of Islam is generally predominant, and there is still a constant 
struggle between the adherents of the old Malayan usages and 
the Hajis, who having made the pilgrimage to Mecca, return 
enthusiastic for a strict observance of Muslim Law. Conse- 
quently the work of conversion must have proceeded very 
slowly, and we can say with tolerable certainty that while part 
of the history of this proselytising movement may be disentangled 
from legends and traditions, much of it must remain wholly 
unknown to us. In the Malay Chronicle which purports to give 
us an account of the first preachers of the faith, what was 
undoubtedly the work of many generations and must have been 
carried on through many centuries, is compressed within the 
compass of a few years ; and, as frequently happens in popular 
histories, a few well-known names gain the fame and credit 
that belongs of right to the patient labours of their unknown 
predecessors. 4 Further, the quiet, unobtrusive labours of many 

1 McNair, pp. 226-9. * J. H. Moor, p. 242. 

8 Newbold, vol. ii. pp. 106, 396. 4 Snouck Hurgronje (1), p. 9. 

JAVA. 305 

these missionaries would not be likely to attract the notice 
of the chronicler, whose attention would naturally be fixed rather 
on the doings of kings and princes, and of those who came in 
close relationship to them. But failing such larger knowledge, 
we must fain be content with the facts that have been handed 
down to us. 

In the following pages, therefore, it is proposed to give a brief 
sketch of the establishment of the Muhammadan religion in this 
island, as presented in the native chronicle, which, though full of 
contradictions and fables, has undoubtedly a historical foundation, 
as is attested by the inscriptions on the tombs of the chief 
personages mentioned and the remains of ancient cities, etc. The 
following account therefore may, in the want of any other 
authorities, be accepted as substantially correct, with the caution 
above mentioned against ascribing too much efficacy to the 
proselytising efforts of individuals. 

The first attempt to introduce Islam into Java was made by a 
native of the island about the close of the twelfth century. The 
first king of Pajajaran, a state in the western part of the island, 
left two sons ; of these, the elder chose to follow the profession of 
a merchant and undertook a trading expedition to India, leaving 
the kingdom to his younger brother, who succeeded to the throne 
in the year 11 90 with the title of Prabu Munding Sari. In the 
course of his wanderings, the elder brother fell in with some Arab 
merchants, and was by them converted to Islam, taking the name 
of Haji Purwa. 

On his return to his native country, he tried with the help of an 
Arab missionary to convert his brother and the royal family to his 
new faith ; but, his efforts proving unsuccessful, he fled into the 
jungle for fear of the king and his unbelieving subjects, and we 
hear no more of him. 1 

In the latter half of the fourteenth century, a missionary move- 
ment, which was attended with greater success, was instituted by 
a certain Mawlana Malik Ibrahim, who landed on the east coast of 
Java with some of his co-religionists, and established himself near 
the town of Gresik, opposite the island of Madura. He is said to 
have traced his descent to Zaynu-l ' Abidin, a great-grandson of 

Veth (3). vol. ii. p. 143. 

Raffles (ed. of 1830), vol. ii. pp. 103, 104, 183. 


the Prophet, and to have been cousin of the Raja of Chermen. 1 
Here he occupied himself successfully in the work of conversion, 
and speedily gathered a small band of believers around him. 
Later on, he was joined by his cousin, the Raja of Chermen, who 
came in the hope of converting the Raja of the Hindu Kingdom 
of Majapahit, and of forming an alliance with him by offering his 
daughter in marriage. On his arrival he sent his son to Majapahit 
to arrange an interview, while he busied himself in the building of 
a mosque and the conversion of the inhabitants. A meeting of 
the two princes took place accordingly, but before the favourable 
impression then produced could be followed up, a sickness broke 
out among the people of the Raja of Chermen, which carried off 
his daughter, three of his nephews who had accompanied him, 
and a great part of his retinue ; whereupon he himself returned 
to his own kingdom. These misfortunes prejudiced the mind of 
the Raja of Majapahit against the new faith, which he said should 
have better protected its votaries : and the mission accordingly 
failed. Mawlana Ibrahim however remained behind, in charge of 
the tombs 2 of his kinsfolk and co-religionists, and himself died 
twenty-one years later, in 141 9, and was buried at Gresik, where 
his tomb is still venerated as that of the first apostle of Islam to 

A Chinese Musalman, who accompanied the envoy of the 
Emperor of China to Java in the capacity of interpreter, six years 
before the death of Mawlana Ibrahim, i.e. in 141 3, mentions the 
presence of his co-religionists in this island in his " General 
Account of the Shores of the Ocean," where he says, " In this 
country there are three kinds of people. First the Muhammadans, 
who have come from the west, and have established themselves 
here ; their dress and food is clean and proper ; second, the 
Chinese who have run away and settled here ; what they eat and 
use is also very fine, and many of them have adopted the Muham- 
madan religion and observe its precepts. The third kind are the 
natives, who are very ugly and uncouth, they go about with un- 
combed heads and naked feet, and believe devoutly in devils, 

1 The situation of Chermen is not known. Veth (3), vol. ii. p. 184, conjectures 
that it may have been in India. 

3 A description of the present condition of these tombs, on one of which 
traces of an inscription in Arabic characters are still visible, is given by 
J. F. G. Brumund, p. 185. 


theirs being one of the countries called devil-countries in 
Buddhist books." l 

We now approach the period in which the rule of the Muham- \ 
madans became predominant in the island, after their religion 
had been introduced into it for nearly a century ; and here it will 
be necessary to enter a little more closely into the details of the 
history in order to show that this was not the result of any 
fanatical movement stirred up by the Arabs, but rather of a 
revolution carried out by the natives of the country themselves, 2 
who (though they naturally gained strength from the bond of a 
common faith) were stirred up to unite in order to wrest the 
supreme power from the hands of their heathen fellow-country- 
men, not by the preaching of a religious war, but through the 
exhortations of an ambitious aspirant to the throne who had a 
wrong to avenge. 3 

The political condition of the island may be described as 
follows : The central and eastern provinces of the island, which 
were the most wealthy and populous and the furthest advanced 
in civilisation, were under the sway of the Hindu kingdom of 
Majapahit. Further west were Cheribon and several other petty 
independent princedoms ; while the rest of the island, including 
all the districts at its western extremity, was subject to the King 
of Pajajaran. 

The King of Majapahit had married a daughter of the prince 
of Champa, a small state in Cambodia, east of the Gulf of Siam. 
She being jealous of a favourite concubine of the King, he sent 
this concubine away to his son Aria Damar, governor of Palem- 
bang in Sumatra, where she gave birth to a son, Raden Patah, 
who was brought up as one of the governor's own children. 
This child (as we shall see) was destined in after years to work a 
terrible vengeance for the cruel treatment of his mother. 
Another daughter of the prince of Champa had married an Arab 
who had come to Champa to preach the faith of Islam. 4 From 
this union was born Raden Rahmat, who was carefully brought 
up by his father in the Muhammadan religion and is still vener- 

1 Groeneveldt, pp. vii. 49-50. 

2 Kern, p. 21. 

3 Veth (3), vol. ii. pp. 186-198. Raffles, vol. ii. pp. 1 13-133. 

4 Remains of minarets and Muhammadan tombs are still to be found in Champa. 
(Bastian, vol. i. pp. 498-9-) 

X 2 

3 o8 


ated by the Javanese as the chief apostle of Islam to their 
country. 1 

When he reached the age of twenty, his parents sent him with 
letters and presents to his uncle, the King of Majapahit. On his 
way, he stayed for two months at Palembang, as the guest of 
Damar, whom he almost persuaded to become a Musalman, only 
he dared not openly profess it for fear of the people who were 
so strongly attached to their ancient superstitions. Continuing 
his journey Raden Rahmat came to Gresik, where an Arab 
missionary, Shaykh Mawlana Jamada-1 Kubra, hailed him as the 
promised Apostle of Islam to East Java, and foretold that the fall 
of paganism was at hand, and that his labours would be crowned by 
the conversion of many to the faith. At Majapahit he was very 
kindly received by the King and the princess of Champa. 
Although the King was unwilling himself to become a convert to 
Islam, yet he conceived such an attachment and respect for 
Raden Rahmat, that he made him governor over 3000 families at 
Ampel, on the east coast, a little south of Gresik, allowed him 
the free exercise of his religion and gave him permission to make 
converts. Here after some time he gained over most of those 
placed under him, to Islam. 

Ampel was now the chief seat of Islam in Java, and the fame 
of the ruler who was so zealously working for the propagation of 
his religion, spread far and wide. Hereupon a certain Mawlana 
Ishaq came to Ampel to assist him in the work of conversion, 
and was assigned the task of spreading the faith in the kingdom 

1 This genealogical table will make clear these relationships, as well as others- 
referred to later in the text : 

King of Champa. 

a daughter 

A concubine = Angka Wijaya, =Darawati 
King of Majapahit. 

Aria Damar. 

Raden Husayn. 

a daughter = an Arab missionary. 

Raden Rahmat. 

a daughter = Raden 

Raden Patah = a daughter. 

JAVA. 309 

of Balambangan, in the extreme eastern extremity of the island. 
Here he cured the daughter of the King, who was grievously sick, 
and the grateful father gave her to him in marriage. She 
ardently embraced the faith of Islam and her father allowed him- 
self to receive instruction in the same, but when the Mawlana 
urged him to openly profess it, as he had promised to do, if his 
daughter were cured, he drove him from his kingdom, and gave 
orders that the child that was soon to be born of his daughter, 
should be killed. But the mother secretly sent the infant away 
to Gresik to a rich Muhammadan widow l who brought him up 
with all a mother's care and educated him until he was twelve 
years old, when she entrusted him to Raden Rahmat. He, after 
learning the history of the child, gave him the name of Raden 
Paku, and in course of time gave him also his daughter in 
marriage. Raden Paku afterwards built a mosque at Giri, to the 
south-west of Gresik, where he converted thousands to the faith ; 
his influence became so great, that after the death of Raden 
Rahmat, the King of Majapahit made him governor of Ampel 
and Gresik. 2 Meanwhile several missions were instituted from 
Gresik. Two sons of Raden Rahmat established themselves at 
different parts of the north-east coast and made themselves 
famous by their religious zeal and the conversion of many of the 
inhabitants of those parts. Raden Rahmat also sent a missionary, 
by name Shaykh Khalifah Husayn, across to the neighbouring 
island of Madura, where he built a mosque and won over many 
to the faith. 

In the Western provinces, the work of conversion was being 
carried on by Shaykh Nuru-d Din Ibrahim, who after many 
wanderings in the Archipelago, at length in 141 2 settled in 
Cheribon. Here he gained a great reputation by the cure of a 
woman afflicted with leprosy, and thousands came to him to be 
instructed in the tenets of the new religion. At first the 
neighbouring chiefs tried to set themselves against the movement, 
but finding that their opposition was of no avail, they suffered 
themselves to be carried along with the tide and many of them 
became converts to the faith. 

We must return now to Aria Damar, the governor of Palem- 

1 The memory of this woman is held in great honour by the Javanese, and 
many come to pray by her grave. See Brumund, p. 186. 

2 Veth (3), vol. ii. pp. 188-190. 


bang. (See p. 307.) He appears to have brought up his children 
in the religion which he himself feared openly to profess, and he 
now sent Raden Patah, when he had reached the age of twenty, 
together with his foster brother, Raden Husayn, who was two 
years younger, to Java, where they landed at Gresik. Raden 
Patah, aware of his extraction and enraged at the cruel treatment 
his mother had received, refused to accompany his foster brother 
to Majapahit, but stayed with Raden Rahmat at Ampel while 
Raden Husayn went on to the capital, where he was well received 
and placed in charge of a district and afterwards made general of 
the army. 

Meanwhile Raden Patah married a granddaughter of Raden 
Rahmat, and formed an establishment in a place of great natural 
strength called Bintara, in the centre of a marshy country, to the 
west of Gresik. As soon as the King of Majapahit heard of this 
new settlement, he sent Raden Husayn to his brother with 
orders to destroy it unless its founder would come to the capital 
and pay homage. This Raden Husayn prevailed upon him to do, 
and he went to the court, where his likeness to the king was at 
once recognised, and where he was kindly received and formally- 
appointed governor of Bintara. Still burning for revenge and 
bent on the destruction of his father's kingdom, he returned to 
Ampel where he revealed his plans to Raden Rahmat. The 
latter endeavoured to moderate his anger, reminding him that he 
had never received anything but kindness at the hands of the 
king of Majapahit, his father, and that while the prince was so 
just and so beloved, his religion forbade him to make war upon 
or in any way to injure him. However, unpersuaded by these 
exhortations (as the sequel shows), Raden Patah returned to 
Bintara, which was now daily increasing in importance and 
population, while great numbers of people in the surrounding 
country were being converted to Islam. He had formed a plan 
of building a great mosque, but shortly after the work had been 
commenced, news arrived of the severe illness of Raden Rahmat. 
He hastened to Ampel, where he found the chief missionaries 
of Islam, gathered round the bed of him they looked upon 
as their leader. Among them were the two sons of Raden 
Rahmat mentioned above (p. 309), Raden Paku of Giri, and five 
others. A few days afterwards Raden Rahmat breathed his last, 
and the only remaining obstacle to Raden Patah's revengeful 

JAVA. 311 

schemes was thus removed. The eight chiefs accompanied him 
back to Bintara, where they assisted in the completion of the 
mosque, 1 and bound themselves by a solemn oath to assist him 
in his attempt against Majapahit. All the Muhammadan princes 
joined this confederacy, with the exception of Raden Husayn, 
who with all his followers remained true to his master, and 
refused to throw in his lot with his rebellious co-religionists. 

A lengthy campaign followed, into the details of which we 
need not enter, but in 1478 after a desperate battle which lasted 
seven days, Majapahit fell and the Hindu supremacy in Eastern 
Java was replaced by a Muhammadan power. A short time after, 
Raden Husayn was besieged with his followers in a fortified 
place and compelled to surrender and brought to Ampel, where 
he was kindly received by his brother. A large number of those 
who remained faithful to the old Hindu religion fled in 148 1 to 
the island of Bali, where the worship of Siva is still the prevailing- 
religion. 3 Others seem to have formed small kingdoms, under the 
leadership of princes of the house of Majapahit, which remained 
heathen for some time after the fall of the great Hindu capital. 

While these events were transpiring in the Eastern parts 
of the island, the missionaries of Islam were not idle in the 
West. Shaykh Nuru-d Din Ibrahim of Cheribon sent his son, 
Mawlana Hasanu-d Din, to preach the faith of Islam in Banten, 
the most westerly province of the island, and a dependency of 
the heathen kingdom of Pajajaran. Here his efforts were 
attended with considerable success, among the converts being a 
body of ascetics, 800 in number. It is especially mentioned in 
the annals of this part of the country that the young prince won 

1 This mosque is still standing and is looked upon by the Javanese as one of the 
most sacred objects in their island. 

2 The people of Bali to the present day have resisted the most zealous efforts of 
the Muhammadans to induce them to accept the faith of Islam, though from time 
to time conversions have been made and a small native Muhammadan community 
has been formed, numbering about 3000 souls out of a population of over 862 
thousand. The favourable situation of the island for purposes of trade has always 
attracted a number of foreigners to its shores, who have in many cases taken up a 
permanent residence in the island. While some of these settlers have always held 
themselves aloof from the natives of the country, others have formed matrimonial 
alliances with them and have consequently become merged into the mass of the 
population. It is owing to the efforts of the latter, that Islam has made this very 
slow but sure progress, and the Muhammadans of Bali are said to form an 
energetic and flourishing community, full of zeal for the promotion of their faith, 
which at least impresses their pagan neighbours, though not successful in persuad- 
ing them to deny their favourite food of swine's flesh for the sake of the worship 
of Allah. (Liefrinck, pp. 24J.-3.) 


over those whom he converted to Islam, solely by the gentle 
means of persuasion, and not by the sword. 1 He afterwards 
went with his father on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and on his return 
assisted Raden Patah in his attack on Majapahit. 

But the progress of Islam in the West of Java seems to have 
been much slower than in the East ; a long struggle ensued 
between the worshippers of Siva and the followers of the 
Prophet, and it was not probably until the middle of the next 
century that the Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran, which in one period 
of the history of Java seems to have exercised suzerainty over 
the princedoms in the western part of the island, came to an end, 2 
while other smaller heathen communities survived to a much 
later period, 3 some even to the present day. The history of 
one of these the so-called Baduwis is of especial interest ; they 
are the descendants of the adherents of the old religion, who 
after the fall of Pajajaran fled into the woods and the recesses of 
the mountains, where they might uninterruptedly carry out the 
observances of their ancestral faith. In later times when they 
submitted to the rule of the Musalman Sultan of Banten, they 
were allowed to continue in the exercise of their religion, on 
condition that no increase should be allowed in the numbers of 
those who professed this idolatrous faith 4 ; and strange to say, 
they still observe this custom although the Dutch rule has been 
so long established in Java, and sets them free from the necessity 
of obedience to this ancient agreement. They strictly limit their 
number to forty households, and when the community increases 
beyond this limit, one family or more has to leave this inner 
circle and settle among the Muhammadan population in one of 
the surrounding villages. 5 

But, though the work of conversion in the West of Java pro- 
ceeded more slowly than in the other parts of the island, yet, 
owing largely to the fact that Hinduism had not taken such deep 
root among the people here, as in the centre of the island, the 
victory of Islam over the heathen worship which it supplanted 
was more complete than in the districts which came more im- 
mediately under the rule of the Rajas of Majapahit. The 

1 Raffles, vol. ii. p. 316. 2 Veth (3), vol. ii. pp. 257, 270. 

3 A traveller in Java in 1596 mentions two or three heathen kingdoms with a 
large heathen population. Niemann, p. 342. 
^Raffles, vol. ii. p. 132-3. 6 Metzger, p. 279. 


Muhamrr^dan law is here a living force and the civilisation 
brought into the country from Arabia has interwoven itself with 
the government and the life of the people ; and it has been 
remarked that at the present day, the Muhammadans of West 
Java, who study their religion at all or have performed the 
pilgrimage to Mecca, form as a rule the most intelligent and 
prosperous part of the population. 1 

We have already seen that large sections of the Javanese re- 
mained heathen for centuries after the establishment of Muham- 
madan kingdoms in the island ; at the present day the whole 
population of Java, with some trifling exceptions, is wholly 
Muhammadan, and though many superstitions and customs have 
survived among them from the days of their pagan ancestors, still 
the tendency is continually in the direction of the guidance of 
thought and conduct in accordance with the teaching of Islam. 
This long work of conversion has proceeded peacefully and gradu- 
ally, and the growth of Muslim states in this island belongs rather 
to its political than to its religious history, since the progress of 
the religion has been achieved by the work rather of missionaries 
than of princes. 

While the Musalmans of Java were plotting against the Hindu 
Government and taking the rule of the country into their own 
hands by force, a revolution of a wholly peaceful character was 
being carried on in other parts of the Archipelago through the 
preaching of the Muslim missionaries who were slowly but surely 
achieving success in their proselytising efforts. Let us first turn 
our attention to the history of this propagandist movement in the 
Molucca islands. 

The trade in cloves must have brought the Moluccas into con- Moluccas, 
tact with the islanders of the western half of the Archipelago 
from very early times, and the converted Javanese and other 
Malays who came into these islands to trade, spread their faith 
among the inhabitants of the coast. 2 The companions of Magellan 
brought back a curious story of the way in which these men intro- 
duced their religious doctrines among the Muluccans. "The 
kings of these islands 3 a few years before the arrival of the 

1 L. W. C. van den Berg (i), pp. 35-6. C. Poensen, pp. 3-8. 

2 De Barros, Dec. iii. Liv. v. Cap. v. pp. 579-580. Argensola, p. II B. 

3 At this period, the Moluccas were for the most part under the rule of four 
princes, viz. those of Ternate, Tidor, Gilolo and Batjan. The first was by far 


Spaniards began to believe in the immortality of the soul, in- 
duced by no other argument but that they had seen a very beau- 
tiful little bird, that never settled on the earth nor on anything 
that was of the earth, and the Mahometans, who traded as 
merchants in those islands, told them that this little bird was born 
in paradise, and that paradise is the place where rest the souls of 
those that are dead. And for this reason these seignors joined 
the sect of Mahomet, because it promises many marvellous things 
of this place of the souls." l 

Islam seems first to have begun to make progress here in the 
fifteenth century. A heathen king of Tidor yielded to the per- 
suasions of an Arab, named Shaykh Mansur, and embraced Islam 
together with many of his subjects. The heathen name of the 
king, Tjireli Lijatu, was changed to that of Jamalu-d Din, while 
his eldest son was called Mansur after their Arab teacher. 3 It was 
the latter prince who entertained the Spanish expedition that 
reached Tidor in 1521, shortly after the ill-fated death of Magellan. 
Pigafetta, the historian of this expedition, calls him Raia Sultan 
Mauzor, and says that he was more than fifty-five years old, and 
that not fifty years had passed since the Muhammadans came to 
live in these islands. 3 

Islam seems to have gained a footing on the neighbouring 
island of Ternate a little earlier. The Portuguese who came to 
this island the same year as the Spaniards reached Tidor, were in- 
formed by the inhabitants that it had been introduced a little more 
than eighty years. 4 

According to the Portuguese account 5 also the Sultan of 
Ternate was the first of the Muluccan chieftains who became a 

the most powerful : his territory extended over Ternate and the neighbouring 
small islands, a portion of Halemahera, a considerable part of Celebes, Amboyna 
and the Banda islands. The Sultan of Tidor ruled over Tidor and some small 
neighbouring islands, a portion of Halemahera, the islands lying between it and 
New Guinea, together with the west coast of the latter and a part of Ceram. 
The territory of the Sultan of Gilolo seems to have been confined to the central 
part of Halemahera and to a part of the north coast of Ceram ; while the Sultan 
of Batjan ruled chiefly over the Batjan and Obi groups. (De Hollander, 
vol. i. p. 5.) 

1 Massimiliano Transilvano. (Ramusio. Tom. i. p. 351 D.) 

2 P. J. B. C. Robide van der Aa. p. 18. 

3 Pigafetta. Tome i. pp. 365, 368. 

4 " Segundo a conta que elles dam, ao tempo que os nossos descubriram 
aquellas llhas, haveria pouco mais de oitenta annos, que nellas tinha entrada esta 
peste." J. de Barros : Da Asia, Decada iii. Liv. v. Cap. v. p. 580. 

* De Barros, id. ib. 


Muhammadan. This prince, who occupied the foremost place 
among the independent rulers in these islands, is said to have 
made a journey to Gresik, in Java, in order to embrace the 
Muhammadan faith there, in 1495. 1 Islam, however, seems at 
first to have made but slow progress, and to have met with con- 
siderable opposition from those islanders who clung zealously to 
their old superstitions and mythology. So that the old idolatry 
lasted on for some time, crudely mixed up with the teachings of 
the Qur'an, and keeping the minds of the people in a perpetual 
state of incertitude. 2 

The Portuguese conquest also made the progress of Islam 
slower than it would otherwise have been. They drove out the 
Qadi, whom they found instructing the people in the doctrines of 
Muhammad, and spread Christianity among the heathen popu- 
lation with some considerable, though short-lived success. 3 For 
when the Muluccans took advantage of the attention of the 
Portuguese being occupied with their own domestic troubles, in 
the latter half of the sixteenth century, to try to shake off their 
power, they instituted a fierce persecution against the Christians, 
many of whom suffered martyrdom, and others recanted, so that 
Christianity lost all the ground it had gained, 4 and from this time 
onwards, the opposition to the political domination of the Chris- 
tians secured a readier welcome for the Muslim teachers who came 
in increasing numbers from the west. 5 The Dutch completed the 
destruction of Christianity in the Moluccas by driving out the 
Spanish and Portuguese from these islands in the seventeenth 
century, whereupon the Jesuit fathers carried off the few remain- 
ing Christians of Ternate with them to the Philippines. 6 

From these islands Islam spread into the rest of the Moluccas ; 
though for some time the conversions were confined to the in- 
habitants of the coast. 7 Most of the converts came from among 

1 Bokemeyer, p. 39. 2 Argensola, pp. 3-4. 

3 Id. p. 15 B. 4 Id. pp. 97, 98. 

5 Id. p. 155 and 158, where he calls Ternate "este receptaculo de setas, 
donde tienen escuela todas las apostasias ; y particularmente los torpes sequazes 
de Mahoma. Y desde el anno de mil y quinientos y ochenta y cinco, en que los 
Holandeses tentaron aquellos mares, hasta este tiempo no han cessado de 
traer sectarios, y capitanes pyratas. Estos llevan las riquezas de Assia, y en su 
lugar dexan aquella falsa dotrina, con que hazen infrutuosa la conversion de tantas 

6 Their descendants are still to be found in the province of Cavite in the island 
of Luzon. (Crawfurd (1), p. 85.) 

7 W. F. Andriessen, p. 222. 


the Malays, who compose the whole population of the smaller 
islands, but inhabit the coast-lands only of the larger ones, the 
interior being inhabited by Alfurs. But converts in later times 
were drawn from among the latter also. 1 Even so early as 1521, 
there was a Muhammadan king of Gilolo, a kingdom on the 
western side of the northern limb of the island of Halemahera. 2 
In modern times the existence of certain regulations, devised for 
the benefit of the state-religion, has facilitated to some extent the 
progress of the Muhammadan religion among the Alfurs of the 
mainland, e.g. if any one of them is discovered to have had illicit 
intercourse with a Muhammadan girl, he must marry her and be- 
come a Muslim ; any of the Alfur women who marry Muhamma- 
dans must embrace the faith of their husbands ; offences against 
the law may be atoned for by conversion to Islam ; and in filling 
up any vacancy that may happen to occur among the chiefs, less 
regard is paid to the lawful claims of a candidate than to his 
readiness to become a Musalman. 8 
Borneo. I Similarly, Islam in Borneo is mostly confined to the coast, 
llj although it had gained a footing in the island as early as the be- 
( r ginning of the sixteenth century. About this time, it was adopted 
by the people of Banjarmasin, a kingdom on the southern side, 
which had been tributary to the Hindu kingdom of Majapahit, 
until its overthrow in 1478 4 ; they owed their conversion to one 
of the Muhammadan states that rose on the ruins of the latter. 5 
The story is that the people of Banjarmasin asked for assistance 
towards the suppression of a revolt, and that it was given on con- 
dition that they adopted the new religion ; whereupon a number 
of Muhammadans came over from Java, suppressed the revolt and 
effected the work of conversion. 6 On the N.-W. coast, the 
Spaniards found a Muhammadan king at Brunai, when they 
reached this place in 152 1. 7 A little later, 1550, it was introduced 
into the kingdom of Sukkadana, 8 in the'western part of the island, 
by Arabs coming from Palembang in Sumatra. 9 The reigning 

1 T. Forrest, p. 68. 2 Pigafetta. (Ramusio, vol. i. p. 366.) 

3 Campen, p. 346. * Dulaurier, p. 528. 

5 Damak, on the north coast of Java, opposite the south of Borneo. 

6 Hageman, pp. 236-9. 

' Pigafetta. (Ramusio. Tom. i. pp. 363-4.) 

8 This kingdom had been founded by a colony from the Hindu kingdom of 
Majapahit (De Hollander, vol. ii. p. 67), and would naturally have come under 
Muslim influence after the conversion of the Javanese. 

9 Dozy (1), p. 386. 

BORNEO. 317 

king refused to abandon the faith of his fathers, but during the 
forty years that elapsed before his death (in 1590), the new religion 
appears to have made considerable progress. His successor became 
a Musalman and married the daughter of a prince of a neighbour- 
ing island, in which apparently Islam had been long established *; 
during his reign, a traveller, 2 who visited the island in 1600, speaks 
of Muhammadanism as being a common religion along the coast. 
The inhabitants of the interior, however, he tells us, were all 
idolaters as indeed they remain for the most part to the present 

The progress of Islam in the kingdom of Sukkadana seems now 
to have drawn the attention of the centre of the Muhammadan 
world to this distant spot, and in the reign of the next prince, a 
certain Shaykh Shamsu-d Din came from Mecca bringing with him 
a present of a copy of the Qur'an and a large hyacinth ring, 
together with a letter in which this defender of the faith received 
the honourable title of Sultan Muhammad Saflyu-d Din. 3 

In the latter part of the eighteenth century one of the inland 
tribes, called the Idaans, dwelling in the interior of N. Borneo, 
is said to have looked upon the Muhammadans of the coast with 
very great respect, as having a religion which they themselves 
had not yet got. 4 Dalrymple, who obtained his information on 
the Idaans of Borneo during his visit to Sulu from 1761 to 1764^ 
tells us that they " entertain a just regret of their own ignorance, 
and a mean idea of themselves on that account ; for, when they 
come into the houses, or vessels, of the Mahometans, they pay 
them the utmost veneration, as superior intelligences, who know 
their Creator ; they will not sit down where the Mahometans 
sleep, nor will they put their fingers into the same chunam, or 
betel box, but receive a portion with the utmost humility, and 
in every instance denote, with the most abject attitudes and 
gesture, the veneration they entertain for a God unknown, in 
the respect they pay to those who have a knowledge of Him." 5 
These people appear since that time to have embraced the 

1 Veth (2), vol. i. p. 193. 

2 Olivier de Noort (Histoire generate des voyages, vol. xiv. p. 225). (The 
Hague, 1756.) 

3 i.e. Purity of Religion; he died about 1677 ; his father does not seem to have 
taken a Muhammadan name, at least he is only known by his heathen name of 
Panembahan Giri-Kusuma. (Netscher, pp. 14-15.) 

4 Thomas Forrest, p. 371. 5 K^say towards an account of Sulu, p. 557. 


Muhammadan faith, 1 one of the numerous instances of the 
powerful impression that Islam produces upon tribes that are 
low down in the scale of civilisation. From time to time other 
accessions have been gained in the persons of the numerous 
colonists, Arabs, Bugis and Malays, as well as Chinese (who have 
had settlements here since the seventh century), 2 and of the slaves 
introduced into the island from different countries ; so that at 
the present day the Muhammadans of Borneo are a very mixed 
race. 3 Many of these foreigners were still heathen when they 
first came to Borneo, and of a higher civilisation than the Dyaks 
whom they conquered or drove into the interior, where they 
mostly still remain heathen, except in the western part of the 
island, in which from time to time small tribes of Dyaks embrace 
Islam. 4 

In the island of Celebes we find a similar slow growth of the 
Muhammadan religion, taking its rise among the people of the 
coast and slowly making its way into the interior. Only the 
more civilised portion of the inhabitants has however adopted 
Islam ; this is mainly divided into two tribes, the Macassars and 
the Bugis, who inhabit the south-western peninsula, the latter 
however also forming a large proportion of the coast population 
on the other peninsulas. The interior of the island, except in 
the south-western peninsula where nearly afl the inhabitants are 
Muhammadan, is still heathen and is populated chiefly by the 
Alfurs, a race low in the scale of civilisation, who also form the 
majority of the inhabitants of the N., E. and S.E. peninsulas ; 
at the extremity of the first of these peninsulas, in Minahassa, 
they have in large numbers been converted to Christianity ; 
the Muhammadans did not make their way hither until after 
the Portuguese had gained a firm footing in this part of the 
island, and the Alfurs that they converted to Roman Catho- 
licism were turned into Protestants by the Dutch, whose 
missionaries have laboured in Minahassa with very considerable 
success. But Islam is slowly making its way among the heathen 
tribes of Alfurs in different parts of the island, both in the districts 
directly administered by the Dutch Government and those under 
the rule of native chiefs. 6 

1 B. Panciera, p. 161. 3 J. Haecman, p. 224. 

3 Veth (2), vol. i. p. 179. 4 De Hollander, vol ii. p. 61. 

6 Med. Ned. Zendclinggcn, vol. xxxii. p. 177 ; vol. xxxiv. p. 170. 


When the Portuguese first visited the island about 1 540, they 
found only a few Muhammadan strangers in Goa, the capital of 
the Macassar kingdom, the natives being still unconverted, and 
it was not until the beginning of the seventeenth century that 
Islam began to be generally adopted among them. The history 
of the movement is especially interesting, as we have here one of 
the few cases in which Christianity and Islam have been com- 
peting for the allegiance of heathen people. One of the incidents 
in this contest is thus admirably told by an old compiler : " The 
discovery of so considerable a country was looked upon by the 
Portuguese as a Matter of Great Consequence, and Measures 
were taken to secure the Affections of those whom it was not 
found easy to conquer ; but, on the other hand, capable of being 
obliged, or rendered useful, as their allies, by good usage. The 
People were much braver, and withal had much better Sense 
than most of the Indians ; and therefore, after a little Conver- 
sation with the Europeans, they began, in general, to discern 
that there was no Sense or Meaning in their own Religion ; and 
the few of them who had been made Christians by the care of 
Don Antonio Galvano (Governor of the Moluccas), were not so 
thoroughly instructed themselves as to be able to teach them a 
new Faith. The whole People, in general, however, disclaimed 
their old Superstitions, and became Deists at once ; but, not 
satisfied with this, they determined to send, at the same time, 
to Malacca and to Achin, 1 to desire from the one, Christian 
Priests ; and from the other, Doctors of the Mohammedan Law ; 
resolving to embrace the Religion of those Teachers who came 
first among them. The Portugeze have hitherto been esteemed 
zealous enough for their Religion ; but it seems that Don Ruis 
Perera, who was then Governor of Malacca, was a little deficient 
in his Concern for the Faith, since he made a great and very 
unnecessary delay in sending the Priests that were desired. 

u On the other hand, the Queen of Achin being a furious 
Mohammedan no sooner received an Account of this Disposition 
in the people of the Island of Celebes than she immediately 
dispatched a vessel full of Doctors of the Law, who in a short 
time, established their Religion effectually among the Inhabitants. 
Some time after came the Christian Priests, and inveighed bitterly 

1 i.e. Atjih. 


against the Law of Mohammed but to no Purpose ; the People 
of Celebes had made their Choice, and there was no Possibility 
of bringing them to alter it. One of the Kings of the Island, 
indeed, who had before embraced Christianity, persisted in the 
Faith, and most of his Subjects were converted to it ; but still, 
the Bulk of the People of Celebes continued Mohammedans, and 
are so to this Day, and the greatest Zealots for their Religion of 
any in the Indies." 1 

This event is said to have occurred in the year 1603. 2 The 
frequent references to it in contemporary literature make it im- 
possible to doubt the genuineness of the story. 8 In the little 
principality of Tallo, to the north of Goa, with which it has 
always been confederated, is still to be seen the tomb of one of 
the most famous missionaries to the Macassars, by name Kha^ib 
Tungal. The prince of this state, after his conversion proved 
himself a most zealous champion of the new faith, and it was 
through his influence that it was generally adopted by all the 
tribes speaking the Macassar language. The sequel of the move- 
ment is not of so peaceful a character. The Macassars were 
carried away by their zeal for their newly-adopted faith, to make 
an attempt to force it on their neighbours the Bugis. The king 
of Goa made an offer to the king of Boni to consider him in all 
respects as an equal if he would worship the one true God. The 
latter consulted his people on the matter, who said, " We have 
not yet fought, we have not yet been conquered." They tried 
the issue of a battle and were defeated. The king accordingly 
became a Muhammadan and began on his own account to attempt 
by force to impose his own belief on his subjects and on the 
smaller states, his neighbours. Strange to say, the people applied 
for help to the king of Macassar, who sent ambassadors to demand 
from the king of Boni an answer to the following questions, 
Whether the king, in his persecution, was instigated by a par- 

1 A Compleat History of the Rise and Progress of the Portugeze Empire in the 
East Indies. Collected chiefly from their own Writers. John Harris : Navigan- 
tium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca. (London, 1 764.) Vol. i. p. 682. 

Crawfurd (1), p. 91. 

3 Fernandez Navarette, a Spanish priest, who went to the Philippine Islands 
in 1646. (Collection of Voyages and Travels, p. 236. London, 1752.) 

Tavernier, who visited Macassar in 1648. (Travels in India, p. 193.) (London, 

Itinerarium Orientale R. P. F. Philippi a SSma. Trinitate Carmclitae 
Discalceati ab ipso conscriptum, p. 267. (Lugduni, 1649.) 


ticular revelation from the Prophet ? or whether he paid 
obedience to some ancient custom ? or foil owed his own personal 
pleasure? If for the first reason, the king of Goa requested 
information ; if for the second, he would lend his cordial co- 
operation ; if for the third, the king of Boni must desist, for 
those whom he presumed to oppress were the friends of Goa. 
The king of Boni made no reply and the Macassars having 
marched a great army into the country defeated him in three 
successive battles, forced him to fly the country, and reduced 
Boni into a province. After thirty years of subjection, the people 
of Boni, with the assistance of the Dutch, revolted against the 
Macassars, and assumed the headship of the tribes of Celebes, in 
the place of their former masters. 1 The propagation of Islam 
certainly seems to have been gradual and slow among the Bugis, 2 
but when they had once adopted the new religion, it seems to 
have stirred them up to action, as it did the Arabs, (though this 
newly-awakened energy in either case turned in rather different 
directions,) and to have made them what they are now, at once 
the bravest men and the most enterprising merchants and navigators 
of the Archipelago. 3 In their trading vessels they make their way 
to all parts of the Archipelago, from the coast of New Guinea to 
Singapore, and their numerous settlements, in the establishment 
of which the Bugis have particularly distinguished themselves, 
have introduced Islam into many a heathen island : e.g. one of 
their colonies is to be found in a state that extends over a con- 
siderable part of the south coast of Flores, where, intermingling 
with the native population, that formerly consisted partly of 
Roman Catholics, they have succeeded in converting all the 
inhabitants of this state to Islam. 4 

In their native island of Celebes also the Bugis have combined 
proselytising efforts with their commercial enterprises, and in the 

1 Crawfurd, vol. ii. pp. 385-9. 

2 " No extraordinary exertion seems for a long time to have been made on 
behalf of the new religion. An abhorrence of innovation and a most pertinacious 
and religious adherence to ancient custom, distinguish the people of Celebes 
beyond all the other tribes of the Eastern isles ; and these would, at first, prove 
the most serious obstacles to the dissemination of Mahometanism. It was this, 
probably, which deferred the adoption of the new religion for so long a period, 
and till it had recommended itself by wearing the garb of antiquity." Crawfurd 
(2), vol. ii. p. 387. 

3 Crawfurd (1), p. 75. De Hollander, vol. ii. p. 212. 

4 De Hollander, vol. ii. p. 666. Riedel (2), p. 67. 


little kingdom of Bolaang-Mongondou in the northern peninsula * 
they have succeeded, in the course of the present century, in 
winning over to Islam a Christian population whose conversion 
dates from the end of the seventeenth century. The first Christian 
king of Bolaang-Mongondou was Jacobus Manopo (1689- 1709), 
in whose reign Christianity spread rapidly, through the influence 
of the Dutch East India Company and the preaching of the Dutch 
clergy. 3 His successors were all Christian until 1844, when the 
reigning Raja, Jacobus Manuel Manopo, embraced Islam. His 
conversion was the crown of a series of proselytising efforts that 
had been in progress since the beginning of the century, for it 
was about this time that the zealous efforts of some Muhammadan 
traders Bugis and others won over some converts to Islam in 
one of the coast towns of the southern kingdom, Mongondou ; 
from this same town two trader missionaries, Hakim Bagus and 
Imam Tuweko by name, set out to spread their faith throughout 
the rest of this kingdom. They made a beginning with the 
conversion of some slaves and native women whom they married, 
and these little by little persuaded their friends and relatives to 
embrace the new faith. From Mongondou Islam spread into the 
northern kingdom Bolaang ; here, in 1830, the whole population 
was either Christian or heathen, with the exception of two or 
three Muhammadan settlers ; but the zealous preachers of Islam, 
the Bugis, and the Arabs who assisted them in their missionary 
labours, soon achieved a wide-spread success. The Christians, 
whose knowledge of the doctrines of their religion was very 
slight and whose faith was weak, were ill prepared with the 
weapons of controversy to meet the attacks of the rival creed ; 
despised by the Dutch Government, neglected and well nigh 
abandoned by the authorities of the church, they began to look 
on these foreigners, some of whom married and settled among 
them, as their friends. As the work of conversion progressed, 
the visits of these Bugis and Arabs, at first rare, became more 
frequent, and their influence in the country very greatly increased, 
so much so that about 1832 an Arab married a daughter of the 
king, Cornelis Manopo, who was himself a Christian : many of 

1 To the east of Minahassa, between long. 124 45' and 123 20', with a popu- 
lation that has been variously estimated at 35,000 and 50,000. (De Hollander, 
vol. ii. p. 247.) 

' Wilken (1), pp. 42-4. 


the chiefs, and some of the most powerful among them,, about the 
same time, abandoned Christianity and embraced Islam. In this 
way Islam had gained a firm footing in his kingdom before Raja 
Jacobus Manuel Manopo became a Muslim in 1844 ; this prince 
had made repeated applications to the Dutch authorities at 
Manado to appoint a successor to the Christian schoolmaster, 
Jacobus Bastiaan, whose death had been a great loss to the 
Christian community but to no purpose, and learning from the 
resident at Manado that the Dutch Government was quite in- 
different as to whether the people of his state were Christians or 
Muhammadans, so long as they were loyal, openly declared him- 
self a Musalman and tried every means to bring his subjects over 
to the same faith. An Arab missionary took advantage of the 
occurrence of a terrible earthquake in the following year, to 
prophesy the destruction of Bolaang-Mongondou, unless the 
people speedily became converted to Islam. Many in their 
terror hastened to follow this advice, and the Raja and his nobles 
lent their support to the missionaries and Arab merchants, whose 
methods of dealing with the dilatory were not always of the 
gentlest. Nearly half the population however still remains 
heathen, but the progress of Islam among them, though slow? 
is continuous and sure. 1 

The neighbouring island of Sambawa likewise probably re- Sambawa. 
ceived its knowledge of this faith from Celebes, through the 
preaching of missionaries from Macassar between 1540 and 1550. 
All the more civilised inhabitants are true believers and are said 
to be stricter in the performance of their religious duties than any 
of the neighbouring Muhammadan peoples. This is largely due 
to a revivalist movement set on foot by a certain Haji 'Ali after 
the disastrous eruption of Mount Tambora in 181 5, the fearful 
suffering that ensued thereon being made use of to stir up the 
people to a more strict observance of the precepts of their 
religion and the leading of a more devout life. 2 At the present 
time Islam still continues to win over fresh converts in this 
island. 3 

The inhabitants of the neighbouring island of Lombok also Lombok. 
owed their conversion to the preaching of the Bugis, who form a 

1 Wilken (2), pp. 276-9. 2 Zollinger (2), pp. 126, 169. 

8 Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, xxxii. p. 177; xxxiv. p. 170. 

Y 2 


large colony here, having either crossed over the strait from 
Sambawa or come directly from Celebes : at any rate the con- 
version appears to have taken place in a peaceable manner. 1 
Mindanao./ In the Philippine Islands we find a struggle between Chris- 
tianity and Islam for the allegiance of the inhabitants, somewhat 
'similar in character to that in Celebes, but more stern and 
enduring, entangling the Spaniards and the Muslims in a fierce 
and bloody conflict, even up to the present day. It is uncertain 
when Islam was first introduced into these islands, 2 but the 
Spaniards who discovered them in 1521, found the population of 
the northern islands to be rude and simple pagans, while 
Mindanao and the Sulu Islands were occupied by more civilised 
Muhammadan tribes. 3 The latter have to this day successfully 
resisted for the most part all the efforts of the Christians towards 
conquest and conversion, so that the Spanish missionaries despair 
of ever effecting their conversion. 4 The success of Islam as com- 
pared with Christianity has been due in a great measure to the 
different form under which these two faiths were presented to the 
natives. The adoption of the latter implied the loss of all 
political freedom and national independence, and hence came to 
be regarded as a badge of slavery. The methods adopted by the 
Spaniards for the propagation of their religion were calculated to 
make it unpopular from the beginning ; their violence and in- 
tolerance were in strong contrast to the conciliatory behaviour of 
the Muhammadan missionaries, who learned the language of 
the people, adopted their customs, intermarried with them, and, 
melting into the mass of the people, neither arrogated to them- 
selves the exclusive rights of a privileged race nor condemned 
the natives to the level of a degraded caste. The Spaniards, on 
the other hand, were ignorant of the language, habits and 
manners of the natives ; their intemperance and above all their 
avarice and rapacity brought their religion into odium ; while its 

1 Zollinger (1 ), p. 527. 

3 Captain Thomas Forrest, writing in 1 775, says that Arabs came to the island 
of Mindanao 300 yea s before and that the tomb of the first Arab, a Sharif from 
Mecca, was still shown -"a rude heap of coral rock stones," pp. 201, 313. 

* Relatione di Ivan Gaetan del discoprimento dell' Isole Molucche. (Kamusio. 
Tom. i. p. 375 E.) 

4 " Se muestran tan obs inados i. la gracia de Dios y tan aferrados a sus 
creencias, que es casi moralmente imposible su conversion al cristiamsmo." 

Cartas de los PP. de la Compania de Jesus de la Mission de Filipinas, 1879, 
quoted by Montero y Vidal. Tom. i. p. 21. 




propagation was intended to serve as an instrument of their 
political advancement. 1 It is not difficult therefore to understand 
the opposition offered by the natives to the introduction of 
Christianity, which indeed only became the religion of the people 
in those parts in which the inhabitants were weak enough, or the 
island small enough, to enable the Spaniards to effect a total 
subjugation ; the native Christians after their conversion had to 
be forced to perform their religious duties through fear of punish- 
ment, and were treated exactly like school-children. 2 To this day, 
the independent Muhammadan kingdom of Mindanao is a refuge 
for those who wish to escape from the hated Christian govern- 
ment 3 ; the island of Sulu, also, though nominally a Spanish 
possession since 1878, forms another centre of Muhammadan 
opposition to Christianity, Spanish-knowing renegades even being 
found here. 4 

We have no certain historical evidence as to how long the Sulu 
inhabitants of the Sulu Islands had been Muhammadan, before 
the arrival of the Spaniards. They have a tradition that a 
merchant named Sayyid 'All, who came from Mecca, converted 
one half of the islanders, the other half still remaining heathen : 
he was elected sultan and reigned seven years. His fame was so 
wide-spread that his tomb became a place of pilgrimage. During 
the reign of his great-grandson, another missionary arrived from 
Mecca, and succeeded in converting almost the whole of such 
part of the population as still remained heathen. 5 Though so 
long converted, the people of Sulu are far from being rigid 
Muhammadans, indeed, the influence of the numerous Christian 
slaves that they carry off from the Philippines in their predatory 
excursions is so great, that it has even been asserted 6 that " they 

1 Crawfurd (2), vol. ii. pp. 274-280. 

2 " lis sont peu soigneux de satisfaire au devoir du Christianisme qu'ils ont 
receu, et il les y faut contraindre par la crainte du chastiment, et gouverner comme 
des enfans a l'escole." Relation des Isles Philippines, Faite par un Religieux, p. 7. 
(Thevenot, vol. i.) 

3 " A Mindanao, les Tagal de l'Est, fuyant le joug abhorre de leurs maitres 
catholiques, se groupent chaque jour davantage autour des chefs des dynasties 
naiionales. Plus de 360,000 sectateurs du coran y reconnaissent un sultan inde- 
pendant. Aux jesuiles chasses de l'ile, aux representants du culte officiel, se sub- 
stituent comme maitres religieux et educateurs de la population, les mU>sionnaires 
musulmans de la Chine et de l'lnde, qui renovent ainsi la propagande, commencee 
par les invasions Arabes." A. le Chatelier (2), p. 45. 

4 Montero y Vidal, vol. i. p. 86. 

5 J. H. Moor. (Appendix, pp. 32-3.) 6 Id. p. 37. 


would long ere this have become professed Christians but from 
the prescience, that such a change, by investing a predominating 
influence in the priesthood, would inevitably undermine their 
own authority, and pave the way to the transfer of their dominions 
to the Spanish yoke, an occurrence which fatal experience has 
too forcibly instructed all the surrounding nations that unwarily 
embrace the Christian persuasion." Further, the aggressive 
behaviour of the Spanish priests who established a mission in 
Sulu has created in the mind of the people a violent antipathy to 
the foreign religion. 1 

As has been already mentioned, Islam has been most favourably 
received by the more civilised races of the Malay Archipelago, 
and has taken but little root among the lower races. Such are 
the Papuans of New Guinea, and the islands to the N.W. of it, 
viz. Waigyu, Misool, Waigama and Salawatti. These islands, 
together with the peninsula of Onin, on the N.W. of New 
Guinea, were in the sixteenth century subject to the Sultan of 
Batjan, 2 one of the kings of the Moluccas. Through the influence 
of the Muhammadan rulers of Batjan, the Papuan chiefs of these 
islands adopted Islam, 3 and though the mass of the people in the 
interior have remained heathen up to the present day, the 
inhabitants of the coast are Muhammadans largely no doubt 
owing to the influence of settlers from the Moluccas. 4 In New 
Guinea itself, very few of the Papuans seem to have become 
Muhammadans. Islam was introduced into the West coast 
(probably in the peninsula of Onin) by Muhammadan merchants, 
who propagated their religion among the inhabitants, as early as 
1 606. 5 But it appears to have made very little progress during 

1 Dalrymple, p. 549. 

2 The first prince of Batjan who became a Muhammadan was a certain Zaynu- 
l'Abidln, who was reigning in 1521 when the Portuguese first came to the 

3 Robide" van der Aa. pp. 350, 352-3. 

4 Id. p. 147 (Misool), " De strandbewoners zijn alien Mahomedanen. . . . Dc 
bergbewoners zijn heidenen." 

Id. p. 53 (Salawatti), " Een klein deel der bevolking van het eiland belijdt de 
leer van Mahamed. Het grootste deel bestaat echter uit Papoesche heidenen 
einige tot het Mahomedaansche geloof zijn overgegangen, althans den schijn 
daarvan aannemen." 

Id. p. 290 (Waigeoe). 

Some of the Papuans of the island of Gebi, between Waigyu and Ilalemahcra. 
have been converted by the Muhammadan settlers from the Moluccas Crawfurd 

(O.P- 143- 
6 RobidS van der Aa. p. 352. 


the centuries that have elapsed since then, 1 and the Papuans have 
shown as much reluctance to become Muhammadans as to accept 
the teachings of the Christian missionaries, who have laboured 
among them without success since 1855. The Muhammadans of 
the neighbouring islands have been accused of holding the Papuans 
in too great contempt to make efforts to spread Islam among 
them. 2 The name of one missionary, however, is found, a certain 
Imam Dikir (? Dhikr), who came from one of the islands on the 
S.E. of Ceram about 1856 and introduced Islam into the little 
island of Adi, south of the peninsula of Onin ; after fulfilling his 
mission he returned to his own home, resisting the importuni- 
ties of the inhabitants to settle among them. 3 

Similar efforts are being made to convert the Papuans of the 
neighbouring Kei Islands. Thirty years ago, there were hardly 
any Muhammadans on these islands, with the exception of the 
descendants of immigrants from the Banda Islands : some time 
before, missionaries from Ceram had succeeded in making some 
converts, but the precepts of the Qur'an were very little observed, 
both forbidden meats and intoxicating liquors being indulged in. 
The women, however, were said to be stricter in their adherence 
to their faith than the men, so that when their husbands wished 
to indulge in swine's flesh, they had to do so in secret, their 
wives not allowing it to be brought into the house. 4 But more 
recently there has been a revival of religious life among the Kei 
islanders, and the number of Muhammadans is daily increasing. 
Arab merchants from Madura, Java, and Bali have proved them- 
selves zealous propagandists of Islam and have left no means 

1 Captain Forrest however in 1775, tells us that " Many of the Papuas turn 
Musselmen." Voyage to New Guinea, p. 68. 

2 Robid6 van der Aa. p. 71. " De Papoe is te woest van aard, om behoefte 
aan godsdienst te gevoelen. Evenmin als de Christelijke leer tot nog toe ingang 
bij hem heeft kunnen vinden, zou de Mahomedaansche godsdienst slagen, wanneer 
daartoe bij deze volkstammen poging gedaan werd. Voorzoover mij is gebleken 
op vijf reizen naar dit land, hebben noch Tidoreezen, noch Cerammers of 
anderen ooit emstige pogingen gedaan, om de leer van Mahomed hier in te 
voeren. . . . Slechts zeer weinige hoofden, zooals de Radja Ampat van 
Waigeoe, Salawatti, Misool en Waigama, mogen als belijders van die leer 
aangemerkt worden ; zij en eenige hunner bloedverwanten vervullen sommige 
geloofsvormen, doordien zij meermalen te Tidor geweest zijn en daar niet gaarne 
als gewone Papoes beschouwd worden. Onder de eigenlijke bevolking is nooit 
gepoogd, den Islam intevoeren, misschien wel uit eerbied voor dien godsdienst, 
die te verheven is voor de Papoes." 

3 RobidS van der Aa. p. 319. 

4 The Journal of the Indian Archipelago, vol. vii. pp. 64, 71. (Singapore 


untried to win converts, sometimes enforcing their arguments by 
threats and violence, and at other times by bribes : as a rule new 
converts are said to get 200 florins' worth of presents, while chiefs 

, receive as much as a thousand florins. 1 

The above sketch of the spread of Islam from west to east 
through the Malay Archipelago comprises but a small part of 
the history of the missionary work of Islam in these islands. 
Many of the facts of this history are wholly unrecorded, and what 
can be gleaned from native chronicles and the works of European 
travellers, officials and missionaries is necessarily fragmentary 
and incomplete. But there is evidence enough to show the 
existence of peaceful missionary efforts to spread the faith of Islam 

: during the last six hundred years : sometimes indeed the sword 

, has been drawn in support of the cause of religion, but preaching 
and persuasion rather than force and violence have been the main 
characteristics of this missionary movement. The marvellous 
success that has been achieved has been largely the work of 
traders, who won their way to the hearts of the natives, by learn- 
ing their language, adopting their manners and customs, and 
began quietly and gradually to spread the knowledge of their 
religion by first converting the native women they married and 
the persons associated with them in their business relations. 
Instead of holding themselves apart in proud isolation, they 
gradually melted into the mass of the population, employing 
all their superiority of intelligence and civilisation for the work of 
conversion and making such skilful compromises in the doctrines 
and practices of their faith as were needed to recommend it to the 
people they wished to attract. 3 In fact, as Buckle said of them, 
" The Mahometan missionaries are very judicious." 3 

Beside the traders, there have been numbers of what may be 
called professional missionaries theologians, preachers, juriscon- 

( suits and pilgrims. The latter have, in recent years, been 
especially active in the work of proselytising, in stirring up a 
more vigorous and consistent religious life among their fellow- 
countrymen, and in purging away the lingering remains of heathen 
habits and beliefs. The number of Malays who make the pil- 

1 G. W. W. C. Baron von Hoevell, p. 120. 

2 Crawfurd (2), pp. 275. 307. 

3 Buckle's Miscellaneous and Posthumous Works, edited by Helen Taylor, 
vol. i. p. 594. (London, 1872.) 


grimage to Mecca from all parts of the Archipelago is yearly on 
the increase, and there is in consequence a proportionate growth 
of Muhammadan influence and Muhammadan thought. Up to 
the middle of the present century the Dutch Government tried 
to put obstacles in the way of the pilgrims and passed an order 
that no one should be allowed to make the pilgrimage to the holy 
city without a passport, for which he had to pay no florins ; and 
any one who evaded this order was on his return compelled to 
pay a fine of double that amount. 1 Accordingly it is not surprising 
to find that in 1852 the number of pilgrims was so low as seventy, 
but in the same year this order was rescinded, and since then, 
there has been a steady increase at a rate moreover that could 
not possibly have been anticipated. For example, the number of 
pilgrims that went from Java alone, in the single year 1874, was 
larger than the whole sum of the pilgrims from all the Dutch 
possessions in the Archipelago during the six years ending 1859, 
when the order, referred to above, had only recently been 
abolished. 2 These numbers, moreover, show no tendency to 
decrease, as may be seen from the following figures : in 1874 the 
number of pilgrims from Java was 33,802, in 1886 it had risen to 
48,237, showing an increase of 40 per cent, within twelve years. 
From other islands the ratio of increase has been even higher, e.g. 
in the case of Borneo and Celebes, of 66 per cent., and from 
Sumatra of 83 per cent., in the same number of years. Such 
an increase is no doubt largely due to the increased facilities of 
communication between Mecca and the Malay Archipelago, but, 
as a Christian missionary has observed, this by no means 
" diminishes the importance of the fact, especially as the Hadjis, 
whose numbers have grown so rapidly, have by no means lost 
in quality what they gained in quantity ; on the contrary, there 
are now amongst them many more thoroughly acquainted with 
the doctrines of Islam, and wholly imbued with Moslem fanaticism 
and hatred against the unbelievers, than there formerly were." 3 
The reports of the Dutch Government and of Christian mission- 
aries, bear unanimous testimony to the influence and the 

1 Niemann, pp. 406-7. 

2 Namely 33,802 from Java alone in 1874 as opposed to 12,985 during 1854-9 
from all the Dutch islands. 

3 Report of Centenary Conference on Protestant Missions, vol. i. p. 21. 
Niemann, p. 407. 


proselytising zeal of these pilgrims who return to their homes as 
at once reformers and missionaries. 1 Beside the pilgrims who 
content themselves with merely visiting the sacred places and 
performing the due ceremonies, and those who make a longer 
stay in order to complete their theological studies, there is a large 
colony of Malays in Mecca at the present time, who have taken 
up their residence permanently in the sacred city. These are in 
constant communication with their fellow-countrymen in their 
native land, and their efforts have been largely effectual in purging 
Muhammadanism in the Malay Archipelago from the contamina- 
tion of heathen customs and modes of thought that have survived 
from an earlier period. A large number of religious books is also 
printed in Mecca in the various languages spoken by the Malay 
Muhammadans and carried to all parts of the Archipelago. Indeed 
Mecca has been well said to have more influence on the religious 
life of these islands than on Turkey, India or Bukhara. 2 

This recent growth of religious zeal has further resulted in a 
rapid increase in the number of Muhammadan schools, which 
constitute powerful adjuncts to the proselytising efforts of the 
Muhammadan missionaries. In 1882 there were in Java 10,913 
of such schools, in which 164,667 students received instruction in 
the faith and practice of Islam ; but the three following years 
brought about an increase of not less than 33 per cent., for in 
1885 there were 16,760 schools with as many as 255,148 students. 3 
In certain cases the fame of some particular teacher attracts to 
one place an unusually large number of students, one school being 
mentioned where the lectures of a learned Arab were attended at 
one time by as many as 150 students.* 

As might be anticipated from a consideration of these facts, 
there has been of recent years a very great awakening of missionary 
activity in the Malay Archipelago, and the returned pilgrims, 
whether as merchants or religious teachers, become preachers 
of Islam wherever they come in contact with a heathen population. 
The religious orders moreover have extended their organisation 
to the Malay Archipelago, 6 even the youngest of them the 

1 Med. Ned. Zendelinggen, vols, xxxii., xxxiv. passim. 

2 Snouck Hurgronje (3), vol. ii. pp. xv., 339393- 

3 Report of Centenary Conference on Protestant Missions, vol. i. p. 21. 

4 L. VV. C. van den Berg, pp. 22, 27. 

6 e.g. the Qadariyah, Naqshibandlyah and Sammanlyah. (C. Snouck Hur- 
gronje (2), p. 186.) Id. (3) vol. ii. p. 372, etc. 



Sanusiyah finding adherents in the most distant islands, 1 one 
of the signs of its influence being the adoption of the name Sanusi 
by many Malays when in Mecca they change their native for 
Arabic names. 2 

The Dutch Government has been accused by Christian mis- 
sionaries of favouring the spread of Islam ; however this may be, 
it is certain that the work of the Muslim missionaries is facilitated 
by the fact that Malay, which is spoken by hardly any but 
Muhammadans, has been adopted as the official language of the 
Dutch Government, except in Java ; and as the Dutch civil 
servants are everywhere attended by a crowd of Muhammadan 
subordinate officials, political agents, clerks, interpreters and 
traders, they carry Islam with them into every place they visit. 
All persons that have to do business with the Government, are 
obliged to learn the Malay language, and they seldom learn it I 
without at the same time becoming Musalmans. In this way thcT 
most influential people embrace Islam, and the rest soon follow 
their example. 3 Thus Islam is at the present time rapidly driving ; 
out heathenism from the Malay Archipelago. 

* J. G. F. Riedel (1), pp. 7, 59, 162. 
2 Snouck Hurgronje (3), vol. ii. p. 323. 

Hauri, p. 313. 



To the modern Christian world, missionary work implies mission- 
ary societies, paid agents, subscriptions, reports and journals ; and 
missionary enterprise without a regularly constituted and con- 
tinuous organisation seems a misnomer. The ecclesiastical con- 
stitution of the Christian church has, from the very beginning of it s 
history, made provision for the propagation of Christian teaching 
among unbelievers ; its missionaries have been in most cases, 
regularly-ordained priests or monks ; the monastic orders (from 
the Benedictines downwards) and the missionary societies of more 
modern time's have devoted themselves with special and concen- 
trated attention to the furthering of a department of Christian 
work that, from the first, has been recognised to be one of the 
prime duties of the church. But in Islam the absence of any 
kind of priesthood or any ecclesiastical organisation whatever has 
caused the missionary energy of the Muslims to exhibit itself in 
forms very different to those that appear in the history of Christian 
missions : there are no missionary societies, no specially trained 
agents, very little continuity of effort. The only exception 
appears to be found in the religious orders of Islam, whose organi- 
sation resembles to some extent that of the monastic orders of 
Christendom. But even here the absence of the priestly ideal, of 
any theory of the separateness of the religious teacher from the 
common body of believers or of the necessity of a special con- 
secration and authorisation for the performance of religious 
functions, makes the fundamental difference in the two systems 
stand out as clearly as elsewhere. 

Whatever disadvantages may be entailed by this want of a 
priestly class, specially set apart for the work of propagating the 
faith, are compensated for by the consequent feeling of responsi- 


bility resting on the individual believer. There being no inter- . 
mediary between the Muslim and his God, the responsibility of 
his personal salvation rests upon himself alone : consequently he 
becomes as a rule much more strict and careful in the perform- 
ance of his religious duties, he takes more trouble to learn the 
doctrines and observances of his faith, and thus becoming deeply ! 
impressed with the importance of them to himself, is more likely 
to become an exponent of the missionary character of his creed 
in the presence of the unbeliever. The would-be proselytiser has 
not to refer his convert to some authorised religious teacher of 
his creed who may formally receive the neophyte into the body of , 
the church, nor need he dread ecclesiastical censure for com- 
mitting the sin of Korah. Accordingly, however great an 
exaggeration it may be to say, as has been said so often, 1 that / 
every Muhammadan is a missionary, still it is true that every / 
Muhammadan may be one, and few truly devout Muslims, living 
in daily contact with unbelievers, neglect the precept of their 
Prophet : H Summon them to the way of thy Lord with wisdom 
and with kindly warning." 2 Thus it is that, side by side with the 
professional propagandists, the religious teachers who have de- 
voted all their time and energies to missionary work, the annals / 
of the propagation of the Muslim faith contain the record of men / 
and women of all ranks of society from the sovereign to the 
peasant, and of all trades and professions, who have laboured for 
the spread of their faith, the Muslim trader, unlike his Christian 
brother, showing himself especially active in such work. In a 
list of Indian missionaries published in the journal of a religious 
and philanthropic society of Lahore 3 we find the names of school- 
masters, Government clerks in the Canal and Opium Depart- 
ments, traders including a dealer in camel- carts, an editor of a 
newspaper, a bookbinder and a workman in a printing establish- 
ment. These men devote the hours of leisure left them after the 
completion of the day's labour, to the preaching of their religion 
in the streets and bazaars of Indian cities, seeking to win converts 
both from among Christians and Hindus, whose religious beliefs 
they controvert and attack. 

1 Snouck Hurgronje (1), p. 8. Liittke (2), p. 30. 
3 Qur'an, xvi. 126. 

3 Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam ka mahwarl risalah (Lahore.) (October, i88q), 
PP. 5-13. 


It is interesting to note that the propagation of Islam has 
not been the work of men only, but that Muslim women have 
also taken their part in this pious task. Several of the Mongol 
princes owed their conversion to the influence of a Muslim wife, 
and the same was probably the case with many of the pagan 
Turks when they had carried their raids into Muhammadan 
countries. The Sanusiyah missionaries that came to work among 
the Tubu, to the north of Lake Chad, have opened schools for 
girls, and have taken advantage of the powerful influence exer- 
cised by the women among these tribes (as among their neigh- 
bours, the Berbers), in their efforts to win them over to Islam. 1 
The progress of Islam in Abyssinia during the first half of this 
century has been said to be in large measure due to the efforts of 
Muhammadan women, especially the wives of Christian princes, 
who had to pretend a conversion to Christianity on the occasion 
of their marriage, but brought up their children in the tenets of 
Islam and worked in every possible way for the advancement of 
that faith. 2 In modern China, a woman of Kashgar who had 
been taken prisoner and brought into the harem of the emperor, 
is said to have almost induced him to embrace Islam, but the 
weighty considerations of state set forth by his ministers 
dissuaded him from openly adopting this faith and he contented 
himself with showing great favour to his Muhammadan subjects, 
keeping many of them about his person and building a mosque 
for them in his palace. 3 The professed devotee, because she 
happens to be a woman, is not thereby debarred from taking her 
place with the male saint in the company of the preachers of the 
faith. The legend of the holy women, descended from 'All, who 
are said to have flown through theiair from Karbala' to Lahore and 
there by the influence of their devout lives of prayer and fasting 
to have won the first converts from Hinduism to Islam,* could 
hardly have originated if the influence of such holy women were a 
thing quite unknown. One of the most venerated tombs in Cairo 
is that of Nafisah, the great-granddaughter of Hasan (the 
martyred son of 'Ali), whose theological learning excited the 

1 Duvcyrier, p. 17. 2 Massaja, vol. xi. pp. 124-5. 

3 Sayyid Sulayman calls him JIfan and says that he was the grandfather of the 
present emperor : Hienfung (1850-61) is probably the emperor referred to. 

Thamaratu-1 Funun, 17th, Shawwal, 131 1. (Bayrut, 1894.) 

4 QJbulam Sarwar : KhazTnatu-1 Asflya, vol. ii. p. 407-8. 


admiration even of her great contemporary, Imam Ash Shafi'i, 
and whose piety and austerities raised her to the dignity of a 
saint : it is related of her that when she settled in Egypt, she 
happened to have as her neighbours a family of dhimmis whose 
daughter was so grievously afflicted that she could not move her 
limbs, but had to lie on her back all day. The parents of the 
poor girl had to go one day to the market and asked their pious 
Muslim neighbour to look after their daughter during their 
absence. Nafisah, filled with love and pity, undertook this work 
of mercy ; and when the parents of the sick girl were gone, she 
lifted up her soul in prayer to God on behalf of the helpless 
invalid. Scarcely was her prayer ended than the sick girl re- 
gained the use of her limbs and was able to go to meet her 
parents on their return. Filled with gratitude, the whole family 
became converts to the religion of their benefactor. 1 

Even the Muslim prisoner will on occasion embrace the oppor- 
tunity of preaching his faith to his captors or to his fellow- 
prisoners. The first introduction of Islam into Eastern Europe 
was the work of a Muslim jurisconsult who was taken prisoner, 
probably in one of the wars between the Byzantine Empire and 
its Muhammadan neighbours, and was brought to the country of 
the Pechenegs 3 in the beginning of the eleventh century. He 
set before many of them the teachings of Islam and they embraced 
the faith with sincerity, so that it began to be spread among this 
people. But the other Pechenegs who had not accepted the 
Muslim religion, took umbrage at the conduct of their fellow- 
countrymen and finally came to blows with them. The Muslims 
who numbered about twelve thousand successfully withstood the 
attack of the unbelievers who were more than double their 
number, and the remnant of the defeated party embraced the 
religion of the victors. Before the close of the eleventh century 
the whole nation had become Muhammadan and had among 
them men learned in Muslim theology and jurisprudence. 3 In 

1 Goldziher, vol. ii. pp. 303-4. 

2 The Pechenegs at this time occupied the country between the lower Danube 
and the Don, to which they had migrated from the banks of the Ural at the end 
of the ninth century. (Karamsin, vol. i. pp. 180-1.) 

3 Abu 'Ubaydu-1 Bakri (died 1094), p. 467-8. 

It may not be out of place here to make mention of the establishment of another 
Muslim community in mediaeval Europe as the result of missionary efforts, viz. 
the Bashkirs of Hungary. The faith of Islam was introduced among these people 
by seven Musulmans who came from Bulgaria (probably about the year 957 a.d.), 


the reign of the Emperor Jahangir (i 605-1 628) there was a cer- 
tain Sunni theologian, named Shaykh Ahmad Mujaddid, who 
especially distinguished himself by the energy with which he 
controverted the doctrines of the Shi'ahs : the latter, being at 
this time in favour at court, succeeded in having him imprisoned 
on some frivolous charge ; during the two years that he was 
kept in prison he converted to Islam several hundred idolaters 
who were his companions in the same prison. 1 In more recent 
times, an Indian mawlawi, who had been sentenced to trans- 
portation for life to the Andaman Islands by the British 
Government because he had taken an active part in the Wahhabi 
conspiracy of 1864, converted many of the convicts before his 

Such being the missionary zeal of the Muslim that he is ready 
to speak in season and out of season, let us now consider some of 
the causes that have contributed to his success. 

Foremost among these is the simplicity of the Muslim creed, 
There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of 
God. Assent to these two simple doctrines is all that is de- 
manded of the convert, and the whole history of Muslim dogmatics 
fails to present any attempt on the part of ecclesiastical assemblies 
to force on the mass of believers any symbol couched in more 
elaborate and complex terms. This simple creed demands no 
great trial of faith, arouses as a rule no particular intellectual 
difficulties and is within the compass of the meanest intelligence. 
Unencumbered with theological subtleties, it may be expounded 
by any, even the most unversed in theological expression. The 
first half of it enunciates a doctrine that is almost universally 
accepted by men as a necessary postulate, while the second half 
is based on a theory of man's relationship to God that is almost 
equally wide-spread, viz. that at intervals in the world's history 
God grants some revelation of Himself to men through the mouth- 

and instructing them in the tenets of this religion, made converts of them all. An 
Arab geographer who happened to meet a party of these Bashkirs that had come 
to study the Muhammadan law in Aleppo (about 1220 a.d.), learned from their 
lips this tradition of their conversion, and has recorded several interesting details 
regarding this little co> pany of the faithful isolated in the midst of the countries 
of the unbelievers. Islam kept its ground among the Bashkirs of Hungary until 
1340, when King Charles Robert compelled all his subjects that were not yet 
Christians to embrace the Cnristian faith or quit the country. 

G^ographie d'Aboulfeda, traduite par M. Reinaud. Tome ii. pp. 294-5. 

1 GJiulam Sarwar : Khazlnatu-l A$flya, vol. i. p. 613. 


piece of inspired prophets. This, the rationalistic character of 
the- Muslim creed, and the advantage it reaps therefrom in 
its missionary efforts, have nowhere been more admirably 
brought out than in the following sentences of Professor 
Montet : 

" Islam is a religion that is essentially rationalistic in the widest 
sense of this term considered etymologically and historically. 
The definition of rationalism as a system that bases religious I 
beliefs on principles furnished by the reason, applies to it exactly. 
It is true that Muhammad, who was an enthusiast and possessed 
too the ardour of faith and the fire of conviction, that precious 
quality he transmitted to so many of his disciples, brought 
forward his reform as a revelation : but this kind of revelation is 
only one form of exposition and his religion has all the marks of 
a bundle of doctrines founded on the data of reason. To believers, 
the Muhammadan creed is summed up in belief in the unity of 
God and in the mission of His Prophet, and to ourselves who 
coldly analyse his doctrines, to belief in God and a future life ; 
these two dogmas, the minimum of religious belief, statements 
that to the religious man rest on the firm basis of reason, sum up 
the whole doctrinal teaching of the Qur'an. The simplicity and 
the clearness of this teaching are certainly among the most 
obvious forces at work in the religion and the missionary activity 
of Islam. It cannot be denied that many doctrines and systems 
of theology and also many superstitions, from the worship of 
saints to the use of rosaries and amulets, have become grafted on 
to the main trunk of the Muslim creed. But in spite of the rich 
development, in every sense of the term, of the teachings of the 
Prophet, the Qur'an has invariably kept its place as the funda- 
mental starting-point, and the dogma of the unity of God has 
always been proclaimed therein with a grandeur, a majesty, an 
invariable purity and with a note of sure conviction, which it is 
hard to find surpassed outside the pale of Islam. This fidelity to 
the fundamental dogma of the religion, the elemental simplicity 
of the formula in which it is enunciated, the proof that it gains 
from the fervid conviction of the missionaries who propagate it, 
are so many causes to explain the success of Muhammadan 
missionary efforts. A creed so precise, so stripped of all theo- 
logical complexities and consequently so accessible to the ordinary 
understanding, might be expected to possess and does indeed 



possess a marvellous power of winning its way into the consciences 
;of men." l 

When the convert has accepted and learned this simple creed, 
he has then to be instructed in the five practical duties of his 
religion : (i) recital of the creed, (2) observance of the five 
appointed times of prayer, (3) payment of the legal alms, (4) 
fasting during the month of Ramadan, and (5) the pilgrimage to 

The observance of this last duty has often been objected to as a 
strange survival of idolatry in the midst of the monotheism of the 
Prophet's teaching, but it must be borne in mind that to him it 
connected itself with Abraham, whose religion it was his mission 
to restore. 2 But above all and herein is its supreme importance 
in the missionary history of Islam it ordains a yearly gathering 
of believers, of all nations and languages, brought together from 
all parts of the world, to pray in that sacred place towards 
which their faces are set in every hour of private worship 
in their distant homes. No fetch of religious genius could 
have conceived a better expedient for impressing on the 
minds of the faithful a sense of their common life and of their 
brotherhood in the bonds of faith. Here, in a supreme act of 
common worship the Negro of the West coast of Africa meets 
the Chinaman from the distant East ; the courtly and polished 
Ottoman recognises his brother Muslim in the wild islander from 
the farthest end of the Malayan Sea. At the same time throughout 
the whole Muhammadan world the hearts of believers are lifted 
up in sympathy with their more fortunate brethren gathered 
together in the sacred city, as in their own homes they celebrate 
the festival of Idu-1 Adha or (as it is called in Turkey and Egypt) 
the feast of Bayram. Their visit to the sacred city has been to 
many Muslims the experience that has stirred them up to ' strive 
in the path of God,' and in the preceding pages constant reference 
has been made to the active part taken by the hajis in missionary 

Besides the institution of the pilgrimage, the payment of the 
legal alms is another duty that continually reminds the Muslim 
that " the faithful are brothers " 8 a religious theory that is very 

1 Edouard Montet : La propaganda chrtienne et ses adversaires musulmans, 
pp. 17-18. (Paris, 1890.) 

2 Qur'an, ii. 1 1 8- 1 26. a Qur'an, xlix. 10. 


strikingly realised in Muhammadan society and seldom fails to 
express itself in acts of kindness towards the new convert. 1 
Whatever be his race, colour or antecedents he is received in the 
brotherhood of believers and takes his place as an equal among 

Very effective also, both in winning and retaining, is the 
ordinance of the daily prayers five times a day. Montesquieu 2 
has well said, " Une religion chargee de beaucoup de pratiques 
attache plus a elle qu'une autre qui Test moins ; on tient beau- 
coup aux choses dont on est continuellement occupe." The 
religion of the Muslim is continually present with him and in the 
daily prayers manifests itself in a solemn and impressive ritual, 
which cannot leave either the worshipper or the spectator un- 
affected. If Renan could say, " Je ne suis jamais entre dans une 
mosquee sans une vive emotion, le dirai-je ? sans un certain 
regret de n'etre pas musulman," 3 it can be readily understood 
how the sight of the Muslim trader at prayer, his frequent 
prostrations, his absorbed and silent worship of the Unseen, 
would impress the heathen African, endued with that strong 
sense of the mysterious such as generally accompanies a low 
stage of civilisation. Curiosity would naturally prompt inquiry, 
and the knowledge of Islam thus imparted might sometimes win 
over a convert who might have turned aside had it been offered 
unsought, as a free gift. Of the fast during the month of 
Ramadan, it need only be said that it is a piece of standing 
evidence against the theory that Islam is a religious system that 
attracts by pandering to the self-indulgence of men. As Carlyle 
has said, " His religion is not an easy one : with rigorous fasts, 
lavations, strict complex formulas, prayers five times a day, and 
abstinence from wine, it did not succeed by being an easy 

Bound up with these and other ritual observances, but not 
encumbered or obscured by them, the articles of the Muslim 
creed are incessantly finding outward manifestation in the life of 

1 But if the unbeliever is the slave of a Muslim the fact of his conversion does 
not procure for him his manumission, as has been stated by some European 
writers, for, according to the Muhammadan law, the conversion of a slave does 
not affect the prior state of bondage. (See W. H. Macnaghten : Principles and 
precedents of Moohummudan Law, p. 312.) (Madras, 1882.) 

3 De l'Esprit des Lois, livre xxv. chap. 2. 

3 Ernest Renan, L'Islamisme et la Science, p. 19. (Paris, 1883.) 

Z 2 


the believer, and thus becoming inextricably interwoven with the 
routine of his daily life, make the individual Musalman an expo- 
nent and teacher of his creed far more than is the case with the 
adherents of most other religions. Couched in such short and 
simple language, his creed makes but little demand upon the 
intellect, and the definiteness, positiveness, and minuteness of the 
ritual leave the believer in no doubt as to what he has to do, and 
these duties performed, he has the satisfaction of feeling that he 
has fulfilled all the precepts of the Law. In this union of 
rationalism and ritualism, we may find, to a great extent, the 
secret of the power that Islam has exercised over the minds 
of men. u If you would win the great masses give them the 
truth in rounded form, neat and clear, in visible and tangible 
guise." * 

Many other circumstances might be adduced that have con- 
tributed towards the missionary success of Islam circumstances 
peculiar to particular times and countries. Among these may be 
mentioned the advantage that Muhammadan missionary work 
derives from the fact of its being so largely in the hands of traders, 
especially in Africa and other uncivilised countries where the 
people are naturally suspicious of the foreigner. For, in the case 
of the trader, his well-known and harmless avocation secures to 
him an immunity from any such feelings of suspicion, while his 
knowledge of men and manners, his commercial savoir-faire, gain 
for him a ready reception, and remove that feeling of constraint 
which might naturally arise in the presence of the stranger. He 
labours under no such disadvantages as hamper the professed 
missionary, who is liable to be suspected of some sinister motive, 
not only by people whose range of experience and mental 
horizon are limited and to whom the idea of any man enduring 
the perils of a long journey and laying aside every mundane 
occupation for the sole purpose of gaining proselytes, is 
inexplicable, but also by more civilised men of the world 
who are very prone to doubt the sincerity of the paid missionary 

The circumstances are very different when Islam has not to 
appear as a suppliant in a foreign country, but stands forth 
proudly as the religion of the ruling race. In the preceding 

1 A. Kuenen : National Religions and Universal Religions, p. 35. (London, 


pages it has been shown that the theory of the Muslim faith 
enjoins toleration and freedom of religious life for all those 
followers of other faiths that pay tribute in return for protection, 
and though the pages of Muhammadan history are stained with 
the blood of many cruel persecutions, still, on the whole, un- 
believers have enjoyed under Muhammadan rule a measure of 
toleration, the like of which is not to be found in Europe until 
quite modern times. 

Forcible conversion was forbidden, in accordance with the pre 
cepts of the Qur'an : u Let there be no compulsion in religion " 
(ii. 257). "Wilt thou compel men to become believers ? No soul 
can believe but by the permission of God " (x. 99, 100). The 
very existence of so many Christian sects and communities in 
countries that have been for centuries under Muhammadan rule 
is an abiding testimony to the toleration they have enjoyed, and 
shows that the persecutions they have from time to time been 
called upon to endure at the hands of bigots and fanatics, have 
been excited by some special and local circumstances rather than 
inspired by a settled principle of intolerance. 1 

1 e.g. The persecution, under Al Mutawakkil, by the orthodox reaction against 
all forms of deviation from the popular creed : in Persia and other parts of Asia 
about the end of the thirteenth century in revenge tor the domineering and insulting 
behaviour of the Christians in the hour of their advancement and power under the 
early Mongols. (MagrlzT (2). Tome i. Premiere Partie, pp. 98, 106.) As- 
semani (Tom. hi. Pars, p.c), speaking of the causes that have excited the 
persecution of the Christians under Muhammadan rule, says : " Non raro perse- 
cutions procellam excitarunt mutuae Christianorum ipsorum simultates, sacerdo- 
tum licentia, praesulum fastus, tyrannica magnatum potestas, et medicorum 
praesertim scribarumque de supremo in gentem suam imperio altercationes." 
During the crusades the Christians of the East frequently fell under the suspicion 
of favouring the invasions of their co-religionists from the West, and in modern 
Turkey the movement for Greek Independence and the religious sympathies it 
excited in Christian Europe contributed to make the lot of the subject Christian 
races harder than it would have been, had they not been suspected of disloyalty 
and disaffection towards their Muhammadan ruler. De Gobineau has expressed 
himself very strongly on this question of the toleration of Islam : "Si Ton separe 
la doctrine religieuse de la necessite politique qui souvent a parle et agi en son 
nom, il n'est pas de religion plus tolerante, on pourrait presque dire plus indif- 
ferente sur la foi des hommes que ITslam. Cette disposition organique est si 
forte qu'en dehors des cas oil la raison d'Etat mise en jeu a porte les gouverne- 
ments musulmans a se faire arme de tout pour tendre a 1' unite de foi, la tolerance 
la plus complete a ete la regie fournie par le dogme. . . . Qu'on ne s'arrete pas 
aux violences, aux cruautes commises dans une occasion ou dans une autre. Si 
on y regarde de pres, on ne tardera pas a y decouvrir des causes toutes politiques 
ou toutes de passion humaine et de temperament chez le souverain ou dans les 
populations. Le fait religieux n'y est invoque que comme pretexte et, en realite, 
il resteen dehors." 

A. de Gobineau (i), pp. 24-5. 


At such times of persecution, the pressure of circumstances has 
driven many unbelievers to become outwardly at least Muham- 
madans, and many instances might be given of individuals who, 
on particular occasions, have been harassed into submission to the 
religion of the Our'an. But such oppression is wholly without the 
sanction of Muhammadan law, either religious or civil. The 
passages in the Qur'an that forbid forced conversion and enjoin 
preaching as the sole legitimate method of spreading the faith 
have already been quoted above (Introduction, pp. 5-6), and the 
same doctrine is upheld by the decisions of the Muhammadan 
doctors. When Moses Maimonides, who under the fanatical rule 
of the Almohades, had feigned conversion to Islam, fled to Egypt 
and there openly declared himself to be a Jew, a Muslim juris- 
consult from Spain denounced him for his apostasy and demanded 
that the extreme penalty of the law should be inflicted on him 
for this offence ; but the case was quashed by Al Qadi-1 Fadil, 1 
one of the most famous of Muslim judges, and the prime minister 
of the great Saladin, who authoritatively declared that a man who 
had been converted to Islam by force could not be rightly con- 
sidered to be a Muslim. 2 In the same spirit, when Ghazan 
(1295-1304) discovered that the Buddhist monks that had become 
Muhammadans at the beginning of his reign, (when their temples 
had been destroyed,) only made a pretence of being converted, he 
granted permission to all those who so wished to return to 
Thibet, where among their Buddhist fellow-countrymen they 
would be free once more to follow their own faith. 3 Tavernier 
tells us a similar story of some Jews of Ispahan who were so 
grievously persecuted by the governor " that either by force or 
cunning he caused them to turn Mahometans ; but the king 
(Shah 'Abbas II.) (1642-1667) understanding that only power and 
fear had constrained them to turn suffer'd them to resume their 
own religion and to live in quiet." 4 A story of a much earlier 
traveller 5 in Persia, in 1478, shows how even in those turbulent 
times a Muhammadan governor set himself to severely crush an 
outburst of fanaticism of the same character. A rich Armenian 

1 i.e. the talented qadl,the title by which Abu 'All 'Abdu-r Rahim (1 135-1200) 
is commonly known : for his biography, see Ibn Khallikan, vol. ii pp. m-115. 

2 Abu-1 Faraj (2), p. 455. * C. d'Ohsson, vol. iv. p. 281. 

4 Tavernier (i), p. 1 60. 

5 Viaggio di Iosafa Barbaro nella Persia. (Ramusio, vol. ii. p. ill.) 



merchant of the city of Tabriz was sitting in his shop one day when 
a Haji, 1 with a reputation for sanctity, coming up to him impor- 
tuned him to become a Musalman and abandon his Christian faith ; 
when the merchant expressed his intention of remaining steadfast 
in his religion and offered the fellow alms with the hope of getting 
rid of him, he replied that what he wanted was not his alms but 
his conversion ; and at length, enraged at the persistent refusal of 
the merchant, suddenly snatched a sword out of the hand of a by- 
stander and struck the merchant a mortal blow on the head and 
then ran away. When the governor of the city heard the news, 
he was very angry and ordered the murderer to be pursued and 
captured ; the culprit having been brought into his presence, the 
governor stabbed him to death with his own hand and ordered 
his body to be cast forth to be devoured of dogs, saying : " What ! 
is this the way in which the religion of Muhammad spreads ? " 
At nightfall, the common people took up the body and buried it, 
whereupon the Governor enraged at this contempt of his order, 
gave up the place for three or four hours to be sacked by his soldiers 
and afterwards imposed a fine as a further penalty ; also he called 
the son of the merchant to him and comforted him and caressed 
him with good and kindly words. Even the mad Al Hakim 
(996-1020), whose persecutions caused many Jews and Christians 
to abandon their own faith and become Musalmans, afterwards 
allowed these unwilling converts to return again to their own 
religion and rebuild their ruined places of worship. 2 Neglected 
as the Eastern Christians have been by their Christian brethren 
in the West, unarmed for the most part and utterly defenceless, it 
would have been easy for any of the powerful rulers of Islam to 
have utterly rooted out their Christian subjects or banished them 
from their dominions, as the Spaniards did the Moors, or the 
English the Jews for nearly four centuries. It would have been 
perfectly possible for Salim I. (in 15 14) or Ibrahim (1646) to have 
put into execution the barbarous notion they conceived of exter- 

1 If indeed by Azi is meant HajT. 

2 Al Makln, p. 260. Similarly, about a century before, Al Muqtadir (908-932 
A.D.) gave orders for the rebuilding of some churches in Palestine that had been 
destroyed by Muhammadans during a riot, the cause of which is not recorded. 
(Eutychius. Tom. ii. pp. 513-4.) Abu Salih makes mention of the rebuilding of 
a great many churches and monasteries in Egypt that had either been destroyed 
in time of war (e.g. during the invasion of the Ghuzz and the Kurds in 1 164), (pp. 
91, 96, 112, 120), been wrecked by fanatics, (pp. 85-6, 182, and Maqrlzl quoted in 
the Appendix p. 327-8), or fallen into decay, (pp. 5, 87, 103-4.) 


minating their Christian subjects, just as the former had massacred 
40,000 Shi'ahs with the aim of establishing uniformity of religious 
belief among his Muhammadan subjects. The muftis who turned 
the minds of their masters from such a cruel purpose, did so as 
the exponents of Muslim law and Muslim tolerance. 1 

Still, though the principle that found so much favour in Ger- 
many in the seventeenth century 2 Cuius regio eius religio, 
was never adopted by any Muhammadan potentate, it is obvious 
that the fact of Islam being the state religion could not fail to 
have some influence in increasing the number of its adherents. 
Persons on whom their religious faith sat lightly would be 
readily influenced by considerations of worldly advantage, and 
ambition and self-interest would take the place of more laudable 
motives for conversion. St. Augustine made a similar complaint 
in the fifth century, that many entered the Christian church 
merely because they hoped to gain some temporal advantage 
thereby : " Quam multi non quaerunt Iesum, nisi ut illis faciat 
bene secundum tempus ! Alius negotium habet, quaerit inter- 
cessionem clericorum ; alius premitur a potentiore, fugit ad 
ecclesiam ; alius pro se vult interveniri apud eum apud quern 
parum valet : ille sic, ille sic ; impletur quotidie talibus ec- 
clesia." 8 

Moreover to the barbarous and uncivilised tribes that saw the 
glory and majesty of the empire of the Arabs in the heyday of 
its power, Islam must have appeared as imposing and have 
exercised as powerful a fascination as the Christian faith when 
presented to the Barbarians of Northern Europe, when " They 
found Christianity in the Empire Christianity refined and 
complex, imperious and pompous Christianity enthroned by 
the side of kings, and sometimes paramount above them." * 

But the recital of such motives as little accounts for all cases 
of conversion, in the one religion as in the other, and they 
should not make us lose sight of other factors in the missionary 
life of Islam, whose influence has been of a more distinctly 
religious character. Foremost among these is the influence of 
the devout lives of the followers of Islam. Strange as it may 

1 A. de la Jonquiere, pp. 203, 213, 312. 

2 E. Charveriat: Histoire de la Guerre de Trente Ans. Tome ii. pp. 615, 625. 
(Paris, 1878.) 

s In Ioannis Evangelium Tractatus, xxv. 10. 

4 C. Merivale: The Conversion of the Northern Nations, p. 102. (London, 1866 > 


appear to a generation accustomed to look upon Islam as a cloak 
for all kinds of vice, it is nevertheless true that in earlier times 
many Christians who have come into contact with a living 
Muslim society have been profoundly impressed by the virtues 
exhibited therein ; if these could so strike the traveller and the 
stranger, they would no doubt have some influence of attraction 
on the unbeliever who came in daily contact with them. Ricoldus 
de Monte Crucis, a Dominican missionary who visited the East 
at the close of the thirteenth century, thus breaks out in praise 
of the Muslims among whom he had laboured : u Obstupuimusy 
quomodo in lege tante perfidie poterant opera tante perfectionis 
inveniri. Referemus igitur hie breviter opera perfectionis Sarra- 
cenorum. . . . Quis enim non obstupescat, si diligenter considered 
quanta in ipsis Sarracenis sollicitudo ad studium, devocio in 
oratione, misericordia ad pauperes, reverencia ad nomen Dei et 
prophetas et loca sancta, gravitas in moribus, affabilitas ad 
extraneos, concordia et amor ad suos P" 1 This note of praise 
and admiration finds many an echo in the works of Christian 
travellers and others ; Sir John Mandevile e.g. bears testimony 
that " the Sarazines ben gode and feythfulle. For thei kepen 
entirely the Comaundement of the Holy Book Alkaron, that God 
sente hem be his Messager Machomet ; to the whiche, as thei 
seyne seynt Gabrielle the Aungel often tyme tolde the wille of 
God." 2 The literature of the Crusades is rich in such appreci- 
ations of Muslim virtues, while the Ottoman Turks in the early 
days of their rule in Europe received many a tribute of praise 
from Christian lips, as has already been shown in a former 

At the present day there are two chief factors (beyond such of 
the above-mentioned as still hold good) that make for missionary 
activity in the Muslim world. The first of these is the revival 
of religious life which dates from the Wahhabi reformation at 
the end of the last century : though this new departure has 
long lost all political significance outside the confines of Najd, 
as a religious revival its influence is felt throughout Africa, India 
and the Malay Archipelago even to the present day, and has 
given birth to numerous movements which take rank among 
the most powerful influences in the Islamic world. In the pre- 
ceding pages it has already been shown how closely connected 

1 Laurent, p. 131. 2 Mandevile, p. 139. 


many of the modern Muslim missions are with this wide-spread 
revival : the fervid zeal it has stirred up, the new life it has 
infused into existing religious institutions, the impetus it has 
given to theological study and to the organisation of devotional 
exercises, have all served to awake and keep alive the innate 
proselytising spirit of Islam. 

Side by side with this reform movement, is another of an 
entirely different character, for, to mention one point of differ- 
ence only, while the former is strongly opposed to European 
civilisation, the latter is rather in sympathy with modern thought 
and offers a presentment of Islam in accordance therewith, viz. 
the Pan-Islamic movement, which seeks to bind all the nations 
of the Muslim world in a common bond of sympathy around the 
Sultan of Turkey as Khalifah and spiritual head of the faithful. 
Though in no way so significant as the other, still this trend of 
thought gives a powerful stimulus to missionary labours ; the 
effort to realise in actual life the Muslim ideal of the brotherhood 
of all believers reacts on collateral ideals of the faith, and the 
sense of a vast unity and of a common life running through the 
nations inspirits the hearts of the faithful and makes them bold 
to speak in the presence of the unbelievers. 

What further influence these two movements will have on the 
missionary life of Islam, the future only can show. But their 
very activity at the present day is a proof that Islam is not dead. 
The spiritual energy of Islam is not, as has been so often main- 
tained, commensurate with its political power. 1 On the contrary, 
the loss of political power and worldly prosperity has served to 
bring to the front the finer spiritual qualities which are the truest 
incentives to missionary work. Islam has learned the uses of 
adversity, and so far from a decline in worldly prosperity being 
a presage of the decay of this faith, it is significant that those 
very Muslim countries that have been longest under Christian 
rule show themselves most active in the work of proselytising. 
The Indian and Malay Muhammadans display a zeal and enthu- 
siasm for the spread of the faith, which one looks for in vain in 
Turkey or Morocco. 

1 Frederick Denison Maurice was giving expression to one of the most com- 
monly received opinions regarding this faith when he said, " It has been proved 
that Mahometanism can only thrive while it is aiming at conquest." (The 
Religions of the World, p. 28.) (Cambridge, 1852.) 




Any account of Muslim missionary activity would be incomplete 
without some mention of the Jihad, or religious war, as the word 
is commonly translated, if only for the fact that the faith of Islam 
is commonly said to have been propagated by the sword and the 
typical Muslim missionary is represented as a warrior with the 
sword in one hand and the Qur'an in the other offering to the 
unbelievers the choice between the two. How inadequate is such 
an account of the spread of Islam may be judged from the pre- 
ceding pages ; it remains now to see whether the teaching of the 
Qur'an authorises forced conversion and exhorts the believer to an 
armed and militant propaganda, in fact whether Islam has been 
missionary despite itself. 

There are no passages to be found in the Qur'an that in any 
way enjoin forcible conversion, and many that on the contrary 
limit propagandist efforts to preaching and persuasion. It has 
further been maintained that no passage in the Qur'an authorises 
unprovoked attacks on unbelievers, 1 and that, in accordance with 
such teaching, all the wars of Muhammad were defensive. 

It is further maintained that the common, popular meaning of 
1 warfare against unbelievers ' attached to the word Jihad, is post- 
Qur'anic, and that the passages in which this word or any of the 
derivatives from the same root occur, should be translated in 
accordance with the primitive meaning. The meaning of the 
simple verb, jahada is ' to strive, labour, toil, to exert oneself ; to 
be diligent, or studious ; to take pains ' : it is applied to exertion 

1 Maulavi Cheragh Ali : A Critical Exposition of the Popular Jihad showing 
that all the wars of Mohammad were defensive; and that aggressive war, or 
compulsory conversion, is not allowed in the Koran. (Calcutta, 1885.) 

" La guerre sainte n'est imposee comme devoir que dans le seul cas ou les 
ennemis de l'islam ont ete les aggresseurs ; si on prend autrement les prescriptions 
du Koran, ce n'est que par suite d'une interpretation arbitraire des theologiens." 
Dozy (1 ), p. 152. 

" No precept is to be found in the Kuran which, taken with the context can 
justify unprovoked war." Lane, p. 93. 


in any kind of affair, even the churning of butter or the eating of 
food, in the 4th form ajhada, also to swearing, and (in the- 
case of things) to their becoming much and spreading : the 8th 
form, ijtahada, denotes * to take pains to form a right judgment,' 
and the noun of action from the same form, ijtihad, 'a lawyer's 
exerting the faculties of the mind to the utmost, for the purpose 
of forming an opinion in a case of law, respecting a doubtful and 
difficult point.' The meaning of the noun of action, jihad is " the 
using, or exerting, one's utmost power, efforts, endeavour, or 
ability, in contending with an object of disapprobation," and it is 
obvious from the above account of the various meanings of different 
forms that the root assumes, that primarily the word bears no 
reference to war or fighting, much less to fighting against un- 
believers or forcible conversion of them, but derives its particular 
application from the context only. 

In the following pages it is proposed to give all the passages in 
which jihad or any other derivatives from the same root, occur ; 
arranging the passages in chronological order. 
And, had We pleased, We had certainly raised up a warner in 

every city ; 
Give not way then to the unbelievers, but by means of this 

(Qur'an) strive against them with a mighty strife (jahid hum 

jihadan kabiran). (xxv. 53-4.) 
(The reference is here clearly to preaching, as these verses were 
revealed in Mecca, and to translate jihad ' warfare ' is as absurd 
as it is illegitimate.) 
And they swear by God with their most strenuous (jahda) oath. 

(xvi. 40.) 
Whoso after he hath believed in God denieth Him, if he were 

forced to it and if his heart remain steadfast in the faith, 

(shall be guiltless) : 
Then to those who after their trials fled their country and strove 

(jahadu) and endured with patience, verily thy Lord will 

afterwards be forgiving, gracious, (xvi. 108, m.) 
(Verse 108 is said to refer to the tortures inflicted on some of 
the converts, and verse in to the flight into Abyssinia ; the jihad 
of these persons therefore was the great exertions and toils they 
had to make through persecution and exile.) 
And whosoever striveth (jahada), striveth (yujahidu) for his own 

self only : verily God is independent of all creatures. 

(xxix. 5.) 
Moreover We have enjoined on man to show kindness to parents ; 

but if they strive (jahada) with thee in order that thou join 

that with Me of which thou hast no knowledge, then obey 

them not. (xxix. 7.) 
And those who have striven, (have exerted themselves, jahadu) for 

us, in our path will We surely guide : for verily God is with 

those who do righteous deeds, (xxix. 69.) 


But if they (i.e. thy parents) strive (jahada) to make thee join 
that with Me of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them 
not. (xxxi. 14.) 

They swore by God with their most strenuous (jahda) oath, 
(xxxv. 40.) 

And they have sworn by God with their most strenuous (jahda) 
oath. (vi. 109.) 

But they who believe, and who fly their country, and strive 
(exert themselves, jahadu) in the way of God, may hope for 
God's mercy, and God is gracious and merciful, (ii. 215.) 

Verily, they who believe and have fled their country and have 
striven (jahadu) with their property and their persons in the 
way of God, and they who have given shelter to and have 
helped (the Prophet), shall be near of kin the one to the 

But as for those who have believed and have fled their country 
and have striven (jahadu) in the way of God, and have given 
shelter to and have helped (the Prophet), these are the true 
believers ; Mercy is their due and a noble provision, (viii. 

73, 750 

And they who have since believed and have fled their country and 
have striven (exerted themselves jahadu) together with you, 
these are of you. (viii. 76.) 

Verily those who have turned back after the guidance hath been 
made plain to them, Satan hath beguiled them. . . . 

Think these men of diseased hearts, that God will not bring out 
their malice to light ? 

And we will surely test you, until we know those who have striven 
(mujahidina) and those who have been patient among you ; 
and we will test the reports of you. 

Verily they who believe not, and turn others from the way of God, 
and separate themselves from the Apostle after that the 
guidance hath been clearly shown them, shall in no way 
injure God : but their works shall He bring to nought, 
(xlvii. 27, 31, 33-4.) 

Do ye think that ye could enter Paradise without God's taking 
knowledge of those among you who have striven (exerted 
yourselves jahadu) and have been patient ? (hi. 136.) 

Believe in God and His apostle, and strive (exert yourselves 
tujahiduna) in the way of God with your property and your 
persons, (lxi. 11.) 

Those believers who sit at home free from trouble and those who 
strive (exert themselves mujahiduna) in the way of God with 
their property and their persons, are not equal. God has 
assigned to those who strive (exert themselves mujahidina) 
with their property and their persons a rank above those 
who sit at home. Goodly promises hath God made to all : 
but God hath assigned to those who strive (exert themselves 


mujahidina) a rich recompense above those who sit at home, 
(iv. 97.) 
And they swore by God with their most strenuous (jahda) oath. 

(xxiv. 52.) 
O believers ! bow down and prostrate yourselves and worship 
your Lord, and work righteousness. Haply ye shall fare 
well ; 
And strive in the Lord (exert yourselves jahidu in God), as it 
behoveth you to do for Him. He hath elected you, and hath 
not laid on you any hardship in religion, the faith of your 
father Abraham, (xxii. 76-7.) 
O Prophet, strive (jahid) with the unbelievers and hypocrites, and 
be severe towards them. (lxvi. 9; ix. 74.) 
(As Muhammad never fought with the munafiqlna or hypo- 
crites, we cannot translate jahid as ' making war ' : the feeling 
that guided his conduct towards them is rather indicated in 
xxxiii. 47 : " Obey not the infidels and hypocrites and take no 
heed of their evil entreating, and put thy trust in God, for God is 
a sufficient guardian ; " accordingly the verse is taken to mean 
" exert thyself in preaching to, and remonstrating with, the un- 
believers and hypocrites, and be strict towards them, i.e. be not 
smooth with them or be beguiled by them.") x 
O ye who believe ! take not My foe and your foe for friends ; ye 
show them kindness, although they believe not that truth 
which hath come to you : they drive forth the Apostle and 
yourselves because ye believe in God your Lord. If ye have 
come out striving (jihadan) in My path and from a desire to 
please Me and (yet) show them kindness in private, then I 
well know what ye conceal, and what ye discover. And 
whoso of you doth this hath verily therefore gone astray from 
the right way. (Ix. 1.) 
The true believers are those only who believe in God and His 
apostle and afterwards doubt not ; and who strive (iahadu) 
with their property and their persons on the path of God. 
These are the sincere, (xlix. 15.) 
Think ye that ye shall be forsaken, and that God doth not yet 
know those among you who strive (exert themselves jahadu) 
and take none for their intimate friends besides God and His 
apostle and the faithful? (ix. 16.) 
Do ye place the giving drink to the pilgrims, and the visitation of 
the sacred temple, on the same level with him who believeth 
on God and the last day, and striveth (iahada) in the path of 
God ? They are not equal before God : and God guideth not 
the unjust. 
They who have believed and fled their country, and striven 
(jahadu) with their property and their persons on the path of 

1 Chirigh 'All, p. 186. 


God, are of the highest grade with God : and these are they 
who shall enjoy felicity, (ix. 19, 20.) 
If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your wives 
and your kindred and wealth which ye have gained, and 
merchandise which ye fear may be unsold, and dwellings 
wherein ye delight, be dearer to you than God and His 
apostle and striving (jihadin) in His path, then wait until 
God shall Himself enter on His work ; and God guideth not 
the impious, (ix. 24.) 
March ye forth, the light and heavy armed, and strive (jahidu) 
with your property and your persons on the path of God. 
(ix. 41.) 
Those who believe in God and in the last day will not ask leave 
of thee to be excused from striving (yujahidu) with their 
property and their persons, (ix. 44.) 
They who were left in their homes were delighted (to stay) behind 
God's apostle and were averse from striving (yujahidu) with 
their property and their persons in the path of God and said, 
" March not out in the heat." (ix. 82.) 
Moreover when a Surah was sent down with" Believe in God and 
strive (exert yourselves jahidu) in company with His apostle," 
those of them who are possessed of riches demanded exemp- 
tion, and said, " Allow us to be with those who sit at home." 
(ix. 87.) 
But the apostle and those who have believed with him, strove 
(exerted themselves jahadii) with their property and persons ; 
and these ! good things await them and these are they who 
shall be happy, (ix. 89.) 
(The ninth Surah, from which the last nine verses have been 
quoted, was revealed at the end of the ninth year of the Hijrah, 
when the Meccans had violated the truce of Hudaybiyah and 
attacked the Banu Khuza'ah,who were in alliance with Muhammad. 
" Will ye not do battle with a people who have broken their 
covenant and aimed to expel your apostle and attacked you first ? "' 
(ix. 13.) The timely submission of Mecca however removed the 
necessity of this retaliation, which was to have been made after 
the expiration of the four sacred months, (ix. 5.) In this case, 
fighting in defence of their aggrieved allies would naturally be 
implied in jihad, though forming no essential part of its meaning ; 
and we can thus understand how jihad came in later times to be 
interpreted as meaning fighting against unbelievers.) 
O ye who believe ! fear God, and desire union with Him, and 
strive (exert yourselves jahidu) in His path : it may be that 
ye will attain to happiness, (v. 39.) 
And the faithful will say, M Are these they who swore by God 
their most strenuous (jahda) oath, that they were surely on 
your side? " (v. 58.) 
O ye who believe ! should any of you desert His religion, God 


will then raise up a people whom He loveth, and who love 

Him, lowly towards the faithful, grievous to the unbelievers ; 

they will strive (exert themselves yujahiduna) in the path oi 

God and will not fear the blame of the blamer. (v. 59.) 

It is due to the Muhammadan legists and commentators that 

jihad came to be interpreted as a religious war waged against 

unbelievers, who might be attacked even though they were not 

the aggressors ; but such a doctrine is wholly unauthorised by the 

Qur'an and can only be extracted therefrom by quoting isolated 

portions of different verses, considered apart from the context 

and the special circumstances under which they were delivered 

and to which alone they were held to refer, being in no way 

intended as positive injunctions for future observance or religious 

precepts for coming generations. But though some Muhammadan 

legists have maintained the rightfulness of unprovoked war 

against unbelievers, none (as far as I am aware) have ventured to 

justify compulsory conversion but have always vindicated for the 

conquered the right of retaining their own faith on payment of 




The following is the text of Al Hashimi's letter inviting Al Kindi 
to embrace Islam : 

" In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, I have 
begun this letter with the salutation of peace and blessing after 
the fashion of my lord and the lord of the prophets, Muhammad, 
the messenger of God (may the peace and mercy of God be upon 
him !). For those trustworthy, righteous and truthful persons 
who have handed down to us the traditions of our Prophet (peace 
be upon him !) have related this tradition concerning him that 
such was his habit and that whenever he began to converse with 
men he would commence with the salutation of peace and blessing 
and made no distinction of dhimmls and illiterate, between 
Muslims and Idolaters (mushriq), saying M I am sent to be kind 
and considerate to all men and not to deal roughly or harshly 
with them," and quoting the words of God, M Verily God is kind 
and merciful to believers." Likewise I have observed that those 
of our Khalifahs that I have met, followed the footsteps of their 
Prophet in courtesy, nobility, graciousness and beneficence, and 
made no distinctions in this matter and preferred none before 
another. So I have followed this excellent way and have begun 
my letter with the salutation of peace and blessing, that I be 
blamed of none who sees my letter. 

I have been guided therein by my affection towards you 
because my lord and prophet, Muhammad (may the peace and 
mercy of God be upon him !) used to say that love of kinsmen is 
true piety and religion. So I have written this to you in obe- 
dience to the messenger of God (may the peace and mercy of God 
be upon him !), feeling bound to show gratitude for the services 
you have done us, and because of the love and affection and incli- 
nation that you show towards us, and because of the favour of my 
lord and cousin the Commander of the Faithful (may God assist 
him !) towards you and his trust in you and his praise of you. 
So in all sincerity desiring for you what I desire for myself, my 
family and my parents, I will set forth the religion that we hold, 
and that God has approved of for us and for all creatures and for 
which He has promised a good reward in the end and safety from 

A a 


punishment when unto Him we shall return. . . . So I have sought 
to gain for you what I would gain for myself ; and seeing your 
high moral life, vast learning, nobility of character, your virtuous 
behaviour, lofty qualities and your extensive influence over your 
co-religionists, I have had compassion on you lest you should 
continue in your present faith. Therefore I have determined to 
set before you what the favour of God has revealed to us and to 
expound unto you our faith with good and gentle speech, following 
the commandment of God, " Dispute not with the men of the 
book except in the best, way." (xxix. 45.) So I will discuss with 
you only in words well-chosen, good and mild ; perchance you 
may be aroused and return to the true path and incline unto the 
words of the Most High God which He has sent down to the last 
of the Prophets and lord of the children of Adam, our Prophet 
Muhammad (the peace and blessing of God be upon him !). I 
have not despaired of success, but had hope of it for you from 
God who showeth the right path to whomsoever He willeth, and 
I have prayed that He may make me an instrument to this end. 
God in His perfect book says " Verily the religion before God is 
Islam" (iii. 17), and again, confirming His first saying,' "And 
whoso desireth any other religion than Islam, it shall by no means 
therefore be accepted from him, and in the next world he shall 
be among the lost " (iii. 79), and again He confirms it decisively, 
when He says, u O believers, fear God as He deserveth to be 
feared ; and die not without having become Muslims " (iii. 97). 

And you know (May God deliver you from the ignorance of 
unbelief and open your heart to the light of faith !) that I am 
one over whom many years have passed and I have sounded the 
depths of other faiths and weighed them and studied many of 
their books especially your books." (Here he enumerates the 
chief books of the Old and New Testaments, and explains how he 
has studied the various Christian sects.) " I have met with many 
monks, famous for their austerities and vast knowledge, have 
visited many churches and monasteries, and have attended their 
prayers. ... I have observed their extraordinary diligence, their 
kneeling and prostrations and touching the ground with their 
cheeks and beating it with their foreheads and humble bearing 
throughout their prayers, especially on Sunday and Friday 
nights, and on their festivals when they keep watch all night 
standing on their feet praising and glorifying God and con- 
fessing Him, and when they spend the whole day standing in 
prayer, continually repeating the name of the Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost, and in the days of their retreats which they 
call Holy Week when they stand barefooted in sackcloth and 
ashes, with much weeping and shedding of tears continually, 
and wailing with strange cries. I have seen also their sacrifices, 
with what cleanliness they keep the bread for it, and the long 
prayers they recite with great humility when they elevate it over 


the altar in the well-known church at Jerusalem with those cups 
full of wine, and I have observed also the meditations of the 
monks in their cells during their six fasts, i.e. the four greater 
and the two less, etc. On all such occasions I have been present 
and observant of the people. Also I have visited their Metro- 
politans and Bishops, renowned for their learning and their 
devotion to the Christian faith and extreme austerity in the 
world, and have discussed with them impartially, seeking for the 
truth, laying aside all contentiousness, ostentation of learning 
and imperiousness in altercation and bitterness and pride of race. 
I have given them opportunity to maintain their arguments and 
speak out their minds without interruption or browbeating, as is 
done by the vulgar and illiterate and foolish persons among our 
co-religionists who have no principle to work up to or reasons on 
which to rest, or religious feeling or good manners to restrain 
them from rudeness ; their speech is but browbeating and proud 
altercation and they have no knowledge or arguments except 
taking advantage of the rule of the government. Whenever I 
have held discussions with them and asked them to speak freely 
as their reason, their creed and their conclusions prompted, they 
have spoken openly and without deception of any kind, and their 
inward feelings have been laid bare to me as plainly as their out- 
ward appearance. So I have written at such length to you (may 
God show you the better way !) after long consideration and pro- 
found inquiry and investigation, so that none may suspect that I 
am ignorant of the things whereof I write and that all into whose 
hands this letter may come, may know that I have an accurate 
knowledge of the Christian faith. 

So, now (may God shower His blessings upon you !) with this 
knowledge of your religion and so long-standing an affection (for 
you), I invite you to accept the religion that God has chosen for 
me and I for myself, assuring you entrance into Paradise and 
deliverance from Hell. 

And it is this, You shall worship the one God, the only God, 
the Eternal, He begetteth not, neither is He begotten, who hath 
no consort and no son, and there is none like unto Him. This is 
the attribute wherewith God has denominated Himself, for none 
of His creatures could know Him better than He Himself. I 
have invited you to the worship of this the One God, whose 
attribute is such, and in this my letter I have added nothing to 
that wherewith He has denominated Himself (high and exalted 
he His name above what they associate with Him !). This is the 
religion of your father and our father, Abraham (may the blessings 
of God rest upon him !), for he was a Hanif and Muslim. 

Then I invite you (may God have you in His keeping !) to 
bear witness and acknowledge the prophetic mission of my lord 
and the lord of the sons of Adam, and the chosen one of the God 
of all worlds and the seal of the prophets, Muhammad . . . 

a a 2 


sent by God with glad tidings and warnings to all mankind. 
" He it is who hath sent His Apostle with the guidance and a 
religion of the truth, that He may make it victorious over every 
other religion, albeit they who assign partners to God be averse 
from it." (ix. 33.) So he invited all men from the East and from 
the West, from land and sea, from mountain and from plain, with 
compassion and pity and good words, with kindly manners and 
gentleness. Then all these people accepted his invitation, bearing 
witness that he is the apostle of God, the Creator of the worlds, 
to those who are willing to give heed to admonition. All gave 
willing assent when they beheld the truth and faithfulness of his 
words, and sincerity of his purpose, and the clear argument and 
plain proof that he brought, namely the book that was sent down 
to him from God, the like of which cannot be produced by men 
or Jinns. " Say : Assuredly if mankind and the Jinns should 
conspire to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce 
its like, though the one should help the other." (xvii. 91.) And 
this is sufficient proof of his mission. So he invited men to the 
worship of the One God, the only God, the Self-sufficing, and 
they entered into his religion and accepted his authority without 
being forced and without unwillingness, but rather humbly 
acknowledging him and soliciting the light of his guidance, and 
in his name becoming victorious over those who denied his divine 
mission and rejected his message and scornfully entreated him. 
So God set them up in the cities and subjected to them the necks 
of the nations of men, except those who hearkened to them and 
accepted their religion and bore witness to their faith, whereby 
their blood, their property and their honour were safe and they 
were exempt from humbly paying jizyah." He then enumerates 
the various ordinances of Islam, such as the five daily prayers, the 
fast of Ramadan, Jihad ; expounds the doctrine of the resurrection 
of the dead and the last judgment, and recounts the joys of 
Paradise and the pains of Hell. u So I have admonished you : if 
you believe in this faith and accept whatever is read to you from 
the revealed Word of God, then you will profit from my admo- 
nition and my writing to you. But if you refuse and continue in 
your unbelief and error and contend against the truth, I shall 
have my reward, having fulfilled the commandment. And the 
truth will judge you." He then enumerates various religious 
duties and privileges of the Muslim, and concludes. " So now in 
this my letter I have read to you the words of the great and high 
God, which are the words of the Truth, whose promises cannot 
fail and in whose words there is no deceit. Then give up your 
unbelief and error, of which God disapproves and which calls for 
punishment, and speak no more of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, 
these words that you yourself admit to be so confusing : and give 
up the worship of the cross which brings loss and no profit, for I 
wish you to turn away from it, since your learning and nobility 


of soul are degraded thereby. For the great and high God says : 
11 Verily, God will not forgive the union of other gods with Him- 
self ; but other than this will He forgive to whom He pleaseth. 
And whoso uniteth gods with God, hath devised a great wicked- 
ness." (iv. 51.) And again ; " Surely now are they infidels who 
say, " God is the Messiah, Son of Mary ;" for the Messiah said, 
M O children of Israel ! worship God, my Lord and your Lord." 
Verily, those who join other gods with God, God doth exclude 
from Paradise, and their abode the Fire ; and for the wicked no 
helpers ! They surely are infidels who say, u God is a third of 
three " : for there is no God but one God ; and if they refrain 
not from what they say, a grievous chastisement shall assuredly 
befall such of them as believe not. Will they not, therefore, 
turn unto God, and ask pardon of Him ? since God is Forgiving, 
Merciful ! The Messiah, Son of Mary, is but an Apostle ; other 
Apostles have flourished before him ; and his mother was a just 
person ; they both ate food." (v. 76-9.) Then leave this path 
of error and this long and stubborn clinging to your religion and 
those burdensome and wearisome fasts which are a constant 
trouble to you and are of no use or profit and produce nothing 
but weariness of body and torment of soul. Embrace this faith 
and take this, the right and easy path, the true faith, the ample 
law and the way that God has chosen for His favoured ones and 
to which He has invited the people of all religions, that He may 
show His kindness and favour to them by guiding them into the 
true path by means of His guidance, and fill up the measure of 
His goodness unto men. 

So I have advised you and paid the debt of friendship and 
sincere love, for I have desired to take you to myself, that you 
and I might be of the same opinion and the same faith, for I have 
found my Lord saying in his perfect Book : " Verily the un- 
believers among the people of the Book and among the poly- 
theists, shall go into the fire of Hell to abide therein for ever. 
Of all creatures they are the worst. But they verily who believe 
and do the things that are right these of all creatures are the 
best. Their recompense with their Lord shall be gardens of 
Eden, 'neath which the rivers flow, in which they shall abide 
for evermore. God is well pleased with them, and they with 
Him. This, for him who feareth his Lord." (xcviii. 5-8.) "Ye 
are the best folk that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye 
enjoin what is just, and ye forbid what is evil, and ye believe in 
God : and if the people of the book had believed, it had surely 
been better for them. Believers there are among them, but most 
of them are disobedient." (iii. 106.) So I have had compassion 
upon you lest you might be among the people of Hell who are 
the worst of all creatures, and I have hoped that by the grace of 
God you may become one of the true believers with whom God 
is well pleased and they with Him, and they are the best of all 


creatures, and I have hoped that you will join yourself to that 
religion which is the best of the religions raised up for men. 
But if you refuse and persist in your obstinacy, contentiousness 
and ignorance, your infidelity and error, and if you reject my 
words and refuse the sincere advice I have offered you (without 
looking for any thanks or reward,) then write whatever you 
wish to say about your religion, all that you hold to be true and 
established by strong proof, without any fear or apprehension, 
without curtailment of your proofs or concealment of your beliefs ; 
for I purpose only to listen patiently to your arguments and to 
yield to and acknowledge all that is convincing therein, submitting 
willingly without refusing or rejecting or fear, in order that I 
may compare your account and mine. You are free to set forth 
your case ; bring forward no plea that fear prevented you from 
making your arguments complete and that you had to put a 
bridle on your tongue, so that you could not freely express your 
arguments. So now you are free to bring forward all your 
arguments, that you may not accuse me of pride, injustice or 
partiality : for that is far from me. 

Therefore bring forward all the arguments you wish and say 
whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you 
are safe and free to say whatever you please, appoint some 
arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only 
towards the truth and be free from the empery of passion : and 
that arbitrator shall be Reason, whereby God makes us responsible 
for our own rewards and punishments. Herein I have dealt justly 
with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept 
whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me. For 
"there is no compulsion in religion" (ii. 257) and I have only 
invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord 
and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. 
Peace be with you and the mercy and blessings of God ! " 

There can be very little doubt but that this document has 
come down to us in an imperfect condition and has suffered 
mutilation at the hands of Christian copyists : the almost entire 
absence of any refutation of such distinctively Christian doctrines, 
as that of the Blessed Trinity, and the references to such attacks 
to be found in Al Kindi's reply, certainly indicate the excision 
of such passages as might have given offence to Christian 
readers. 1 

1 Similarly, the Spanish editor of the controversial letters that passed between 
Alvar and " the transgressor " (a Christian convert to Judaism), adds the follow- 
ing note after Epist. xv. : " Quatuordecim in hac pagina ita ahrasae sunt liniae, 
ut nee verbum unum legi posit. Folium subiequens exsecuit possessor codicis, ne 
transgressoris deliramenta legerentur." (Migne, Patr. Lat. Tom. exxi. p. 483.) 



Although Islam has had no organised system of propaganda, no 
tract societies or similar agencies of missionary work, there has 
been no lack of reasoned presentments of the faith to unbelievers, 
particularly to Christians and Jews. Of these it is not proposed 
to give a detailed account here, but it is of importance to draw 
attention to their existence if only to remove the wide-spread 
misconception that mass conversion is the prevailing character- 
istic of the spread of Islam and that individual conviction has 
formed no part of the propagandist schemes of the Muslim 
missionary. The beginnings of Muhammadan controversy 
against unbelievers are to be found in the Qur'an itself, but from 
the ninth century of the Christian era begins a long series of 
systematic treatises of Muhammadan Apologetics, which has 
been actively continued to the present day. The number of 
such works directed against the Christian faith has been far more 
numerous than the Christian refutations of Islam, and some of 
the ablest of Muslim thinkers have employed their pens in their 
composition, e.g. Abu Yiisuf ibn Ishaq al Kindi (a.d. 813-73), 
Mas'udi (ob. 958 a.d.), Ibn Hazm (a.d. 994-1064), Al Grhazzall 
(ob. mi a.d.), etc. It is interesting also to note that several 
renegades have written apologies for their change of faith and 
in defence of the Muslim creed, e.g. Ibn Jazlah in the eleventh 
century, Yusufu-1 Lubnani and Shaykh Ziyadah ibn Yahya in the 
thirteenth, 'Abdu-llah ibn 'Abdu-llah (of whom an account is 
given in Appendix IV.) in the fifteenth, Darwesh 'All in the 
sixteenth, Ahmad ibn ' Abdi-llah, an Englishman born at Cam- 
bridge, in the seventeenth century, etc., etc. These latter were all 
Christians before their conversion, but Jewish renegades also, 
though fewer in number, have been among the apologists of 
Islam. In India, besides many Muhammadan books written 
against the Christian religion, there is an enormous number of 
controversial works against Hinduism : as to whether the 
Muhammadans have been equally active in other heathen 
countries, I have no information. 


The reader will find a vast store of information on Muslim 
controversial literature in the following writings : Moritz Stein- 
schneider : Polemische und apologetische Literatur in arabischer 
Sprache, zwischen Muslimen, Christen und Juden. (Leipzig, 
1877.) Ignatius Goldziher : Ueber Muhammedanische Polemik 
gegen Ahl al-kitab. (Z.D.M.G. Vol. 32, p. 341 ff. 1878.) Martin 
Schreiner : Zur Geschichte der Polemik zwischen Juden und 
Muhammedanern. (Z.D.M.G. Vol. 42, p. 591 ff. 1888.) 



Any account of the spread of Islam would be incomplete without 
some mention of those persons who have embraced this faith 
without ever having been brought under any proselytising 
influences and without even (in some cases) having come into 
personal contact with Musalmans at all before their conversion, 
but have enrolled themselves among the followers of the Prophet 
after study of some of the documents of Muslim theology. The 
number of such persons is probably by no means inconsiderable, 
but the records we possess of these conversions are very scanty. 
In the following pages the narratives of some of these converts 
have been given at length, as possessing an individual interest 
quite apart from any connection with the general history of the 
spread of Islam. 

Probably one of the earliest of such conversions is that of a 
Greek named Theodisclus, who succeeded St. Isidore (who died 
a.d. 636) as Archbishop of Seville ; he was accused of heresy, for 
maintaining that Jesus was not one God in unity with the Father 
and the Holy Spirit but was rather son of God by adoption ; he 
was accordingly condemned by an ecclesiastical synod, deprived 
of his archbishopric and degraded from the priesthood. Where- 
upon he went over to the Arabs and embraced Islam among 
them. 1 

Whether or not the knowledge of Islam that came into 
Europe from Spain or later through the constant communication 
with Muhammadan countries in the time of the Crusades, 
attracted any persons in Christian Europe to the faith of the 
Prophet, or whether any of the adherents of the many heretical 
sects of the Middle Ages sought to find greater freedom of 
thought in the pale of Islam, I have been unable to determine. 
Of the subjects of the Byzantine Empire or the Crusaders who 
came under the immediate influence of Muhammadan thought 
and society, it is not the place to speak here, and some account 

1 Lucae Diaconi Tndensis Chronicon Mundi. (Andreas Schottus : Hispaniae 
Illustratae. Tom. iv. p. 53.) (Francofurti, 1603-8.) 


The reader will find a vast store of information on Muslim 
controversial literature in the following writings : Moritz Stein- 
schneider : Polemische und apologetische Literatur in arabischer 
Sprache, zwischen Muslimen, Christen und Juden. (Leipzig, 
J 877-) Ignatius Goldziher : Ueber Muhammedanische Polemik 
gegen Ahl al-kitab. (Z.D.M.G. Vol. 32, p. 341 ff. 1878.) Martin 
Schreiner : Zur Geschichte der Polemik zwischen Juden und 
Muhammedanern. (Z.D.M.G. Vol. 42, p. 591 ff. 1888.) 



Any account of the spread of Islam would be incomplete without 
some mention of those persons who have embraced this faith 
without ever having been brought under any proselytising 
influences and without even (in some cases) having come into 
personal contact with Musalmans at all before their conversion, 
but have enrolled themselves among the followers of the Prophet 
after study of some of the documents of Muslim theology. The 
number of such persons is probably by no means inconsiderable, 
but the records we possess of these conversions are very scanty. 
In the following pages the narratives of some of these converts 
have been given at length, as possessing an individual interest 
quite apart from any connection with the general history of the 
spread of Islam. 

Probably one of the earliest of such conversions is that of a 
Greek named Theodisclus, who succeeded St. Isidore (who died 
a.d. 636) as Archbishop of Seville ; he was accused of heresy, for 
maintaining that Jesus was not one God in unity with the Father 
and the Holy Spirit but was rather son of God by adoption ; he 
was accordingly condemned by an ecclesiastical synod, deprived 
of his archbishopric and degraded from the priesthood. Where- 
upon he went over to the Arabs and embraced Islam among 
them. 1 

Whether or not the knowledge of Islam that came into 
Europe from Spain or later through the constant communication 
with Muhammadan countries in the time of the Crusades, 
attracted any persons in Christian Europe to the faith of the 
Prophet, or whether any of the adherents of the many heretical 
sects of the Middle Ages sought to find greater freedom of 
thought in the pale of Islam, I have been unable to determine. 
Of the subjects of the Byzantine Empire or the Crusaders who 
came under the immediate influence of Muhammadan thought 
and society, it is not the place to speak here, and some account 

1 Lucae Diaconi Tudensis Chronicon Mundi. (Andreas Schottus : Hispaniae 
Illustratae. Tom. iv. p. 53.) (Francofurti, 1603-8.) 


has already been given in preceding pages of the converts won 
from these sources. 

One of the most remarkable and circumstantial accounts of a 
conversion of this kind is found in a controversial work entitled 
" The book of the present of the scholar to refute the people of 
the cross " : which contains an attack upon Christianity and a 
defence of the Muslim faith. This book was written in 1420 
a.d. by a Christian priest who after his conversion to Islam took 
the name of 'Abdu-llah ibn 'Abdi-llah : in the preface he gives 
an autobiographical sketch of his life, from which we learn that 
he was born in Majorca, of well-to-do parents ; that from his 
childhood he was destined for the priesthood ; at the age of six 
he was set to study the Gospels and learned the greater part by 
heart ; then after studying grammar and logic, was sent to the 
University of Lerida in Catalonia, where after going through a 
course of physics and astronomy for some time, he devoted him- 
self exclusively for four years to the study of theology. From 
Lerida he went to the famous University of Bologna, which was 
at that time at the zenith of its fame and popularity. " I lived 
(he tells us) in the house of an aged priest who was highly 
respected, named Nicolas Martil. 1 This priest occupied a very 
high position in Bologna on account of his learning, his piety and 
his ascetic life, in respect of which he was unsurpassed by any of 
the Christians of his time. Difficult points of theology were 
continually being submitted to him for solution, from all parts, 
by kings and others, who also sent him large presents. . . . With 
this priest I studied the principles and ordinances of the Christian 
faith ; I served him for a long time, attending on him continually, 
so that at length he made me the most intimate of his intimate 
friends. As I continued to serve him devotedly, he went so far 
as to entrust me with the keys of his house and of his store- 
rooms. In this way I spent ten years in the service of this 
priest and in study. Now one day it happened that the priest 
fell ill and was unable to go to the lecture hall. The students 
who attended his lectures, while waiting for him to come, began 
to discuss various learned topics, and in the course of their dis- 
cussions there happened to come up the words that God spoke 
by the mouth of His prophet, Jesus : " There shall come after 
me a prophet whose name is the Paraclete." An animated dis- 
cussion followed lasting for some time, but in the end they broke 
up without having settled the difficulty. 

When I returned to the house of our professor, he asked me, 
" What was the subject of your disputation to-day, during my 
absence?" I told him how we had been unable to come to an 
agreement on the question of the name of the Paraclete ; that 

1 Professor Guidi has suggested to me that the Italian form of this name was 
very probably M artel lo. 


one had expressed one opinion and another another, and I told 
him of the various suggestions that had been offered. "And 
what solution did you offer ? " said he. " That of such and such 
a theologian, as given in the commentary on the Gospels." 
" How near and yet how far you are from the truth ! " he cried, 
" so and so was quite wrong and so and so nearly guessed right, 
but yet not one of you has arrived at the true meaning. Besides, 
no one can rightly interpret this illustrious name except those 
who are deeply versed in knowledge and, so far, none of you have 
made much progress in knowledge." 

At these words I threw myself at his feet and kissed them and 
said to him : " O Sir, you see that I have come to you from a far 
country ; for these ten years I have served you, and have learned 
of you more than I can tell ; now fill up the measure of this 
kindness towards me by expounding to me this illustrious name." 
The old man began to weep, saying, " My son, of a surety you 
are very dear to me for the services you have rendered me and 
for your devotion to me. Assuredly, there is great advantage to 
be gained from the knowledge of this illustrious name, but I fear 
that if I reveal it to you, the Christians will at once put you to 

N By the most High God, by the truth of the Gospel and by 
Him who brought it ! " I cried, " I promise that I will reveal your 
secret to no one, except with your permission." 

" My son, when you first came to me, I asked you for informa- 
tion about your native land, for I wished to know whether it was 
near to the Muslim country, whether your fellow-countrymen 
went to war with them or they with you, in fact I wanted to find 
out what hatred you felt towards Islam. Then know, my son, 
that the Paraclete is one of the names of the prophet of the 
Muslims, Muhammad, to whom has been revealed the fourth 
book of which the prophet Daniel x speaks when he announces 
that this would be revealed to him. Of a surety, his religion is 
the true religion and his doctrine is the glorious doctrine of which 
the Gospel speaks." 

" If this is so, Sir," (I asked) " what is your opinion about the 
Christian faith ? " 

" My child," (he answered) M if the Christians had remained 
faithful to the religion of Jesus, they would be in possession of 
the religion of God, for the religion of Jesus, like that of all the 
prophets, is the religion of God." 

M Then what remedy is there, Sir ? " I asked. 

He replied : " Embrace Islam, my child." 

" But," (I asked) " will he who embraces Islam obtain salva- 
tion ? " 

"Yes," (he answered) "he obtains salvation in this world and 
the next." 

1 Daniel xii. 4. 


" But, Sir, the wise man chooses for himself that only which 
he has recognised to be the best : then when you maintain the 
superiority of Islam, what hinders you from embracing it ?" 

" My son," (he replied) " God has revealed to me the truth of 
what I have just told you with regard to the superiority of the 
religion of Islam and the greatness of the Prophet of Islam, only 
in my old age. Now I am burdened with years and my body is 
weak. I do not mean that this can serve as an excuse ; on the 
contrary, the argument of God is strong against me. If God had 
guided me to this path when I was your age, I would have given 
up everything and embraced the true religion. But love of the 
world is the source of all sin. You know what a high position I 
hold among the Christians and the respect and consideration they 
show me. Now, if they were once to perceive how things really 
stood and my tendency towards Islam, they would all unite to 
slay me at once. But let us suppose that I succeeded in escaping 
them and in making my way safely to the Muslims, this is what 
would happen : I should say to them, " I am come to live among 
you, as a Muslim," and they would answer, " In entering into the 
true faith, you have done good to yourself but you have conferred 
no benefit on us. For by entering into the religion of Islam you 
have escaped the chastisement of God." Then I should remain 
among them, an old man of seventy years, poor, ignorant of their 
language and doomed to die of hunger, while they would know 
nothing of the high position I had held. Well, thanks be to 
God, I have remained faithful to the religion of Jesus and the 
revelation he brought, God be my witness ! " 

" Then, Sir," (said I) u your advice to me is to go to the country 
of the Muslims and embrace their religion ? " 

M Yes," (he replied) " if you are wise and seek salvation, make 
haste to do so, for thereby you will gain this world and the next. 
Now up to the present no one knows anything of this matter of 
ours and do you be most careful to keep it secret, for if it should 
get abroad ever so little, you would at once be put to death and I 
could do nothing for you. It would be of no avail for you to throw 
the blame on me, for while what 1 said against you would be 
believed, no one would believe what you said against me. If 
then you say a word of this matter, I am innocent of your 

M May God preserve me," I cried, " from the very thought of 

Having promised him what he wished, I got ready for my 
journey and bade him farewell ; he blessed me and gave me fifty 
dinars for the expenses of my journey. 

I set out for the city of Majorca, my birthplace, where I 
stayed six months ; then sailed to the island of Sicily, where I 
waited five months for a ship to set sail for the country of the 
Muslims. A ship going to Tunis having arrived, I went on 


board : we left Sicily in the evening twilight and cast anchor in 
the harbour of Tunis at mid-day. 

When I disembarked at the custom-house, some of the Chris- 
tian soldiers heard of me and took me to their houses ; some mer- 
chants too residing in Tunis accompanied them. I passed four 
months with them enjoying the most liberal hospitality. 

At the end of this time, I made inquiries among them as to 
whether there was anyone in the Sultan's court who could 
speak the language of the Christians. The Sultan at that time 
was his late Majesty, Abii-1 'Abbas Ahmad. They informed me 
that at the court there was a learned man named Yusuf, the 
Physician, one of the chief servants of the Sultan, whose physician 
and favourite he was. 

This information gave me great pleasure and having inquired 
where he lived I was shown the way to his house. When I came 
before him, I explained to him my situation and told him that my 
desire to embrace Islam was the reason of my coming. The 
physician was exceedingly glad to hear this news, more especially 
as this happy event was to take place through his intervention. 
So he mounted his horse and took me with him to the palace, and 
going in, told the Sultan my story and begged him to give me an 
audience. This request being granted, I was admitted into the 
presence of the Sultan. 

He first asked me my age, to which I replied that I was thirty- 
five. Then he inquired what studies I had pursued and I told 

" You are welcome," (he said) u become a Muslim, and the 
blessing of the High God be upon you." 

I said to the interpreter, the physician above mentioned, 
" Tell our Lord, the Sultan, that no man ever abandons his 
religion without many persons crying out against him and 
calumniating him ; I beg you to grant me the favour of summon- 
ing the Christian merchants and the Christian soldiers and 
of making inquiries from them regarding me, so that you may 
hear what they have to say of me ; after that I will embrace 

The Sultan replied through the interpreter : " Your request is 
the same as 'Abdu-llah ibn Salam made of the Prophet when he 
embraced Islam." Then he sent for the Christian soldiers and 
some of the merchants and put me into a room close to the place 
where he sat ; and asked them, " What is your opinion of the 
priest who recently came, by such and such a ship ? " They 
answered, u He is a man of great learning in our religion, and our 
men of learning have not met with any one of greater eminence 
in learning and piety than he is." 

" What would you say of him," asked the Sultan, " if he were 
to become a Muslim ? " 

" God forbid ! " they cried, " he will never do that." 


When he had heard the opinion of the Christians, the Sultan 
sent for me. Then, at that very time and in the presence of the 
Christians, I repeated the profession of faith. The Christians 
made the sign of the cross on their faces and said, " It is only the 
desire of getting married (for among us priests do not marry) that 
has driven him to this act," and they left the palace in great 
distress." l 

After his conversion he received an allowance of four dinars a 
day from the Sultan, Abu-1 'Abbas Ahmad (i 370-1 394) and was 
shortly afterwards placed in charge of the custom-house. His 
tomb is still shown at Tunis, where it is an object of peculiar 
veneration. 2 

It has already been shown that during the Reformation period, 
the Protestants of Hungary and other places preferred the rule of 
the Turks to that of the Catholics, and cases occurred of Protes- 
tants who fled into Turkish territory to mid there the freedom of 
religious worship and opinions which was denied them in 
Christian Europe. The common points of doctrine in the teach- 
ings of some of these sects and in the Muslim creed, were so many, 
and the points of difference so few, that it is not surprising to learn 
that in the sixteenth century " not a few Socinians passed over to 
Muhammadanism." 3 

As to the numerous Christian renegades, belonging to various 
nations of Europe, whose names occur in Turkish history, often 
occupying high and responsible posts, there seems very little in- 
formation to be gained regarding their religious life, beyond the 
fact that they were once Christians and afterwards became Musal- 
mans : whether there were any among them who left their native 
country solely from a desire to embrace Islam and join a Muham- 
madan community, I have been unable to discover. As for the 
numerous renegades who went to swell the numbers of the 
Barbary corsairs, there is probably not a single instance to be 
found in which religious conviction had anything to do with their 
apostasy, for such a lawless life of bloodshed and piracy could offer 
no attractions except to the escaped convicts, deserters and 
scoundrels of all kinds who made their way to the North coast of 
Africa from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. 4 Towards the 
close of the eighteenth century, when the influence of freethinking 
literature especially in France had weakened in many minds 
their old belief in the doctrines of the Christian faith, and some 

1 Kitabu tuhfati-1 arib fl-r raddi 'alii ahli-s salib, pp. 5-8 (a. 11. 1290) (s. 1. et typ.) 
Le present d'e I'homme lettre pour refuter les partisans dc la Croix, par 'Abd- 

Allah ibn 'Abd-Allah, le Drogman, Traduit par M. N. . . . (Revue de 
l'Histoire des Religions. Tome xii. (1885) pp. 75-9.) 

2 Id. pp. 69. 80-81. 

3 J. II. Hottinger, Historia Orientalis, p. 363. (Zurich, 1660.) 

4 The Adventures of Thomas Pellow, edited by Dr. Robert Brown, pp. 12-13, 
32-3. (London, 1890.) 


works l had appeared from the pens of writers of the free-thought 
school, in which the Muhammadan religion was belauded to the 
disparagement of Christianity, several Europeans, and among 
them even some French Abbes left their own country and 
migrated to Turkey, there to embrace Islam. 3 

It is rare that any news of such conversions has reached Chris- 
tian-Europe and rarer still that any of these renegades has com- 
mitted to print any account of himself, as, for example, was done 
by a French military officer who became a Musalman in the be- 
ginning of the present century, taking the name of Isma'll, after- 
wards changed to Ibrahim Mansur : 3 during his student days in 
Paris, he had learned to read, write and speak the Turkish lan- 
guage, so presumably he had some knowledge of the Muslim faith 
before he left his native country. 

In recent years there have been several conversions of this kind, 
for the history of which some materials are available ; such for 
example is the case of a Mr. Schumann of Hanover, who embraced 
Islam in 1888 after a correspondence with the Shaykhu-1 Islam at 
Constantinople. The following letter addressed to the new convert 
by this important ecclesiastical functionary was published in the 
newspapers of Constantinople and thence translated into French 
and English ; at the present day when efforts are being made to 
present Islam to the Christian world in as attractive a form as pos- 
sible, and the conversion of England and America forms the sub- 
ject of many a Muslim prayer, it is of considerable interest as a 

1 Henri, Comte de Boulainvilliers : Vie de Mahomet. (1730 ) 
Anacharsis Cloots : La certitude des preuves du Mahometisme. (1780.) 

2 The following account is given of such persons by a Protestant clergyman who 
was for nine years (1759- 1 768) pastor of the Evangelical community in Smyrna 
and during this period visited Constantinople. Speaking of the renegades, he 
says : " Allein man sollte denken, dass es wenigstens nicht leichtlich geschahe, 
class Leute mit kaltem Blute, und denen man einen gesunden Verstand zuschreiben 
sollte, die sich auch wohl einer grossen Belesenheit riihmen, dergleichen Unbe- 
sonnenheit oder vielmehr Gottlosigkeit begehen sollten. Ich habe verschiedene 
Petit-Maitres und Abbes, auch sonst andre Personen ihr Vaterland verlassen und 
nach der Turkey kommen sehen, um Muhamedaner zu werden. Man ist 
vielleicht begierig, die Bewegungsursachen und die Verleitungen dieser Witzlinge 
zu einem solchen Unternehmen zu erfahren. Solche waien zweyfach. Das 
Lesen der freygeisterischen Schriften, zumal von den Franzosen, welche fast stets 
durch witzig eingekleidete Vorstellungen von den Tiirken, das Christenthum 
herabsetzen, hatte den wenigen Verstand, den diese Leute noch hatten, bis zu 
diesem Grade zerriittet. Nachstdem war ihnen die Freyhdt zu denken y diess 
Lieblings- und Losungswort der vermeynten starken Geister, aber auch die Freyheit, 
oder besser zu sagen, die Frechheit zu leben und bey den Tiirken in den liebsten 
Fleischesliisten ungestrafet und ohne Gewissensbisse sich herumzuwalzen, so 
reizend abgeschildert worden, dass sie als Muhamedaner hier ein Paradiess zu 
erlangen trachteten, wozu ihnen der Unglaube keine Hoffnung fiir die Zukunft 

C. M. Liideke : Glaubwurdige Nachrichten von dem Tiirkischen Reiche, p. 183. 
(Leipzig, 1770.) 

3 Memoires sur la Grece et TAlbanie parlbrahim-Manzour-Efendi. (pp. i.-lxxvi. 
Notice sur l'auteur des ces memoires.) (Paris, 1827.) 


statement of Muslim doctrine emanating from so authoritative a 
source, and evidently intended to create as favourable an impres- 
sion as possible on the minds of Christians : it is therefore signifi- 
cant in the missionary history of Islam and is accordingly given 
here at length : " Dear Sir, The letter by which you ask to be 
received into the heart of the Musalman religion has been received 
and has caused us lively satisfaction. The reflections which you 
make on this occasion appear to us worthy of the highest praise. 

At the same time we ought to call your attention to the fact 
that your conversion to Islam is not subordinated to our consent, 
for Islam does not admit of any intermediary, like the clergy, 
between God and His servants. Our duty consists only in teach- 
ing the people religious truths. Consequently, conversion to 
Islam demands no religious formality and depends upon the 
authorisation of no one. It is sufficient to believe and to proclaim 
one's belief. 

In fact, Islam has for its base, faith in the unity of God and in 
the mission of his dearest servant Muhammad (may God cover 
him with blessings and grant him salvation) ; i.e. to accept con- 
scientiously this faith and to avow it in words, as expressed by 
the phrase : M There is only one God and Muhammad is His 
prophet." He who makes this profession of faith becomes a 
Musalman, without having need of the consent or approbation 
of any one. If, as you promise in your letter, you make this 
profession of faith, that is to say, you declare that there is only 
one God and that Muhammad is His prophet, you become a 
Musalman without having need of our acceptance ; and we, for 
our part, felicitate you with pride and joy for having been touched 
by divine grace, and we shall testify in this world and the other 
that you are our brother. Believers are all brothers. 

Such is a summary definition of faith. Let us enter now upon 
some developments of it. Man, who is superior to the other 
animals by his intelligence, was created out of nothing to adore 
his Creator. This adoration may be summed up in two words 
to honour the commands of God and to sympathise with his 
creatures. This double adoration exists in all religions. As to its 
practice religions differ as to their rules, forms, times, places, the 
greater or less number of their rites, etc. But the human in- 
telligence does not suffice to assure us of the manner of praying 
which is most worthy of the divine glory ; so God in His mercy, 
in according to certain human beings the gift of prophecy, in 
sending to them, by angels, inspiration, writings and books, and 
in so revealing the true religion, has overwhelmed his servants 
with blessings. 

(The letter then goes on to speak of the Our'an, the Prophets, 
the Last Judgment, and other articles of belief; next, of the 
practical duties of prayer, almsgiving, etc.) 

A sinner who repents and in person asks God's forgiveness 


obtains pardon. Only the rights of his neighbour are an ex- 
ception to this rule ; for the servant of God who cannot obtain 
justice in this world, reclaims his rights at the Day of Judgment, 
and God, who is just, will then compel the oppressor to make resti- 
tution to the oppressed. Even the martyrs are no exception to 
this rule. To avoid this responsibility the only means is to get a 
quittance from your neighbour whom you have wronged. In all 
cases, however, there is no need of the intercession of a spiritual 

All this no doubt seems strange to people accustomed to a 
sacerdotal regime. When a Christian child is born, to make 
part of society he must be baptized by a priest ; when he grows 
up he needs a priest to marry him ; if he would pray he must go 
to a church and find a priest ; to obtain forgiveness for his sins 
he must confess to a priest ; and he must have a priest to bury 

In the Musalman religion, where there is no clergy, such 
obligations have no place. The infant is born a Musalman, and 
his father, or the chief of the family, gives him a name. When 
they wish to contract a marriage, the man and the woman or 
their agents make the contract in presence of two witnesses ; the 
contracting parties are the only ones interested and others cannot 
intervene or take part. 

A Musalman prays all alone in any place which suits his 
convenience, and to merit the remission of his sins he goes 
directly to God. He does not confess them to others, nor ought 
he to do so. At his death the Musalman inhabitants of the town 
are obliged to put him in a coffin and bury him. Any Musalman 
can do this ; the presence of a religious chief is not necessary. 

In a word, in all religious acts there is no intermediary between 
God and His servants. It is necessary to learn the will of God, 
revealed by the Prophet, and to act in conformity with it. 

Only the accomplishment of certain religious ceremonies, such 
as the prayers on Friday and at Bairam, is subordinated to the 
will of the Caliph, since the arrangement of ceremonies for Islam 
is one of his sacred attributes. Obedience to his orders is one of 
the most important religious duties. As to our mission, it con- 
sists in administering, in his name, the religious affairs which he 
deigns to confide to us. 

One of the things to which every Musalman ought to be very 
attentive is righteousness in character ; vices, such as pride, 
presumption, egotism and obstinacy, do not become a Musalman. 
To revere the great and to compassionate the insignificant are 
precepts of Islam." J 

A few years before the date of the above letter an English 
solicitor, Mr. William Henry Quilliam by name, had embraced 

1 The Independent, New York, Feb. 9th, 1888. 

B b 


Islam after an independent study of the Our'an and various works 
on Muhammadanism. His attention had first been drawn to this 
faith, while on a visit to Morocco in 1884, where he was espe- 
cially struck by the apparent sincerity of the followers of Islam 
and the absence of drunkenness and other vices that so forcibly 
obtrude themselves in the great cities of England. He instituted 
a Muslim mission in the city of Liverpool, where after five years' 
labour he gained about thirty converts. More vigorous and 
active methods of propaganda were then adopted, public lectures 
were delivered, pamphlets circulated, a magazine published and 
the doctrines of Islam vindicated by open-air preachers. Ten 
years after Mr. Quilliam's conversion, the number of the English 
converts had risen to 137. This missionary movement has 
attracted considerable attention in the Muhammadan world, 
especially in India, where every incident connected with the 
religious life of the English converts is chronicled in the Muham- 
madan newspapers. In 1891 Mr. Quilliam was invited by the 
Sultan of Turkey to visit him in Constantinople, and three years 
later he was commissioned to be the bearer of a decoration from 
the Sultan to a Muslim merchant who had erected a mosque in 
Lagos on the West Coast of Africa. 

In America another convert named Muhammad Alexander 
Russell Webb, who had been led to embrace Islam through 
private and independent study, started a mission in the year 
1893. 1 Brought up as a Presbyterian, he early abandoned Chris- 
tianity, and became a materialist ; afterwards becoming interested 
in the study of Oriental religions, he was particularly attracted 
towards Islam, and entered into correspondence with a gentleman 
of Bombay, named Badru-d Din ' Abdu-llah Kur. At this time Mr. 
Webb was American Consul at Manilla, where he was visited 
(after this correspondence had been carried on for nearly two 
years) by a wealthy merchant of Jiddah, Haji 'Abdu-llah 'Arab, 
who guaranteed the payment of a large sum of money towards 
the establishment of a Muslim mission in America. After visit- 
ing India and lecturing in some of the chief cities with large 
Muhammadan populations, Mr. Webb proceeded to New York, 
where he opened a mission and advocated the cause of Islam in a 
periodical entitled ' The Moslem World.' 2 

These two movements in England and in America are among 
the most recent expressions of missionary activity in Islam ; they 
are particularly noticeable as presenting certain features of 

1 This was not the first attempt to preach Islam in America, as in 1875 a 
Methodist preacher, named Norman, who had gone to Constantinople as a 
Christian missionary, embraced Islam there and began to preach it in America. 
(Garcin de Tassy, La langue et litterature hindoustanies en 1875, P* 9 2 > (Paris, 

1 Islam ; a lecture by Muhammad Alexander Russell Webb, published by 
Badruddin Abdulla Kur. (Bombay, 1892.) 


accommodation in order to recommend this religion to the 
modern civilised world. The missions in England and America 
are conducted by men who are profoundly ignorant of the vast 
literature of Muhammadan theologians, and derive their know- 
ledge of Islam mainly from English translations of the Qur'an 
and the works of its modern, rationalising exponents and apolo- 
gists. They have introduced into their religious worship certain 
practices borrowed from the ritual of Protestant sects, such as 
the singing of hymns, praying in the English language, etc. We 
have thus a presentment of Islamic doctrine and practice that 
differs from all others, and strikingly illustrates the power of this 
religion to adapt itself to the peculiar characteristics and the stage 
of development of the people whose allegiance it seeks to win. 

b b 2 


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'Ahdu-llah ibn 'Ardi-li.ah, 362-6. 
' Abdu-1 Qadiri-1 Jilani, 222, 268-9. 
Abu Bakr, 9-10, 42, 50. 
Abyssinia, 97-103, 282, 334. 

Bilal, the first-fruits of, II. 
Achin, see Atjih. 
Adoptionism, 119. 
Afghanistan, 183, 184. 
Africa, 87-1 1 1, 258-292. 

Church of North, 107- 1 1 1. 
Al Azhar, 287-8. 
Albanians, 56-7, 152-165, 167. 
Alfurs, 316, 318. 
Al Ma'mun, 59, 68, 73, 183. 
Almohades, 261-2. 
Almoravides, 122, 261-2. 
Al Mu'tashn, 57, 93, 179, 183, 223. 
Al Mutawakkil, 58, 66, 67, 68. 
America, Islam in, 370. 
Amirghanlyah, 268. 
Amiroutzes, George, 138. 
Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, 235, 333. 
Antivari, 155, 159, 161, 162, 163, 165. 
Arab society in the time of Muhammad, 

26, 39-41. 
Arabs in Africa, 87-8, 91, 97, 103, 

106-7, 11 1 258-260, 262, 263, 271, 

281, 286. 
Arabs in China, 246, 247, 250-1. 
Arabs in the Malay Archipelago, 293-4, 

296, 300, 302, 303, 305, 307, 308, 

314, 316, 318, 322-3, 327. 
Aria Damar, 307-8, 309. 
Arianism, 105, 114. 
Armenia, 82-3, 151-2, 188, 189. 
Ashanti, 276-7. 
Assam, 232. 
Atjih, 296, 302-3, 319. 
Aurangzeb, 208, 213-15. 

Baduwis, 312. 
Baele, 274. 
Bagirmi, 264. 
Bali, 311, 327. 
Bambara, 271. 

Bambuk, 271. 

Banjarmasin, 316. 

Banten, 311, 312. 

Banii GJjassan, 44, 47. 

Banu TaghHb, 45. 

Baraka Khan, 191-2, 199. 

Bashkirs, 336. 

Bengal, 227-230. 

Berbers, 258-262. 

Bilal, ir, 24. 

Bogomiles, 169-172. 

Bolaang-Mongondou, 322-3. 

Borahs, 226-7. 

Borneo, 316-18, 329. 

Bornu, 263, 266, 287. 

Bosnia, 144, 169-172. 

Brunai, 316. 

Buddhists converted to Islam, 191, 241, 

247, 304. 
Bmjis, 318, 321-2, 323. 
Bukhara, 183, 184, 185, 191, 205, 

206-7, 230, 245, 246, 330. 
Bulgarians, 201-2. 

Cape Coast Colony, 284-5. 

Capitation-tax, see Tax. 

Celebes, 318-323, 329. 

Ceram, 327. 

Ceylon, 219, n ". 

Chalcedon, Council of, 4S, 87. 

Cheribon, 307, 309,311. 

China, 24, 189, 241, 242-257, 306, 

325 n a . 334- 
Chinese in the Malay Archipelago, 298, 

306, 318. 
Christian Arabs converted to Islam, 44. 
,, Clergy converted to Islam, 
74, 86, 89, 90, 98, 137, 
,, Officials and soldiers in Mu- 
hammadan service, 57-8, 
82, 91, 153.4. 
Christians preferring Muslim to Chris- 
tian rule, 49, 56, 82, 127, 134, 135, 
166-7, 170. 



Christians serving in the Muslim army 
exempted from the payment of capi- 
tation-tax, 56-7 

Churches built in Muhammadan 
countries, 52, 58-9, 1 1 5, 343 n 2 - 

Circassians, 86. 

Controversies between Christians and 
Muslims, 72, 93, 191 n 3 , 359-60. 

Conversion, forced, absence of, vindi- 
cated by contemporaries, 71, 135-6, 

Conversion, forced, condemned, 5-6, 

74 n , 341-3- . 
,, ,, to Christianity in 

Abyssinia, 102. 
,, to Christianity in 

Europe, 6-7, 

,, to Christianity in 

the Malay 

Archipelago, 7, 

,, ,, to Islam in India, 

,, to Islam in North 

Africa, 107. 
,, of Mongols to Christianity, 

188, 192, 193. 
of Muslims to Christianity, 

80, 172. 
Copts, 87-93. 
Crete. 131-2, 141, 172-6. 
Crusaders, 75-80. 
Cutch, 225-6. 

Dahomey, 277. 

Damascus, 50-51, 64. 

Danfodio, Shaykh, 'Uthman, 265-7. 

Darfur, 263-4, 287. 

Daylam, 180. 

Deccan, 221-2. 

Dongola, 94, 267, 268. 

Dyaks, 318. 

Egypt, churches built in, 58-9, 93. 
,, Jacobite Christians of : see 
English Muslims, 3, 359, 369-70. 

Falaba, 271. 

Finns, 204. 

Firuz Shah Tughlaq, 212. 

Flores, 321. 

Fulahs, 265-7, 271, 273, 277, 286. 

Funj, 276. 

Futah Toro, 270, 285. 

Gallas, 99-100, 102, 275, 282-3. 

Gennadios, 126. 

Georgia, 83-6, 142. 

Gerganos, 141. 

Ghazan, 195-6, 342. 

Gold Coast, 277. 

Golden Horde, 186, 191, 199-201. 

Gragne, Ahmad, 98-9, 10 1. 

Greece, 56-7, 127, 142. 

the first-fruits of, 21. 
Greets in the Crimea, 203. 
Gresik, 305-6, 308, 309, 310, 315. 
Guinea Coast, 276. 
Gujarat, 226-7. 

Hajis, 270, 286, 313, 328-330, 338. 

Halemahera, 316. 

Harar, 275. 

Hausa, 264, 273, 277. 

Heraclius, 23, 48-9. 

Heythoum, king of Armenia, 188. 

Hindus converted to Islam in India, 

208-9, 211-241. 
Hindus converted to Islam in the 

Malay Archipelago, 304-312. 
Hoey-hu, 246-7. 
Hungary, 134, 137 n 2 , 166, 336. 
Hunyady, John, 166-7. 

Ilk hans, 189-190, 192-7. 

Ilorin, 267. 

India, 182, 208-241, 294, 297. 

Intermarriages between Christians and 

Muslims, 116, 155, 160, 197, 334. 
Islam, a missionary religion, I, 39-41, 


,, a universal religion, 23-5. 
,, the brotherhood of, 27-8, 38, 
40. 65-6, 289-290, 338-9. 
Isma'Ilians, 181-2, 225-6. 

Jacobite Church in Abyssinia, see 

Jacobite Church in Egypt : see Copts. 
,, in Nubia : see Nubia. 

,, Patriarch,letter of Jesujab III. , 

Patriarchs, converted to Islam, 

Jaghbub, 274-5. 
Janissaries, 129-131, 133, 143. 
Java, 294, 304-3i3> 327, 329- 
Jerusalem, 51, 77. 
Jews, Chinese, 249. 
,, Spanish, 113, 134. 

C C 



Jihad, 270, 271-3, 285-6, 300, 347. 

Jizyah, see Tax. 
Justinian, 48, 63, 105. 

Kabils, 109, no. 
Kanem, 263. 
Kano, 264, 288. 
Kashgar, 197. 
Kashmir, 240- 1. 
Katseua, 264. 
/ Kei Islands, 327-8. 
Khadrlyah, 267. 
Khalid, 42-3, 46, 55, 183. 
Eiazars, 202. 
Khojahs, 225. 
Khubilay Khan, 186, 187, 190, 195, 

Khurasan, 70-71, 180, 184, 245. 
Kiloa, 278, 279. 
Kirghiz, 204-5. 
Kordofan, 263, 268. 
Kuchum Khan, 206-7. 

Laccauive Islands, 220-221. 
Lagos, 277, 370. 
Leger, 139, 141. 
Liberia, 269, 276. 
Lithuania, Muslims in, 3. 
Lombok, 323. 

Louis VII., 75-6, 79, 188, 192. 
Lucaris, Cyril, 139-141. 

Macarius, 134-5. 

Macassar, 319-321. 

Madura, 309, 327. 

Maimonides, Moses, 342. 

Majapahit, 306-312, 316. 

Malacca, 300. 

Malay Archipelago, 274. 

Malay Peninsula, 300-304. 

Maldive Islands, 220-1. 

Mandingos, 263, 271, 277, 286, 287. 

Mappila, 216, 219, 220. 

Mecca, 22, 265, 270, 297, 299, 302, 
303, 312, 317, 325, 329-30, 338. . 

Merchants, Muslim, as missionaries, 
101, 191, 201, 207, 217, 221, 224, 
246, 262, 270, 277, 283, 286, 294-5, 
300, 304, 313, 321, 322-3, 325, 326, 

327, 333, 340. 
Metaras, Nicodemus, 141. 
Minahassa, 318. 
Missionaries, Muslim : 

4 Abdu-llah ibn Yashin, 260-1, 270. 

Abu 'Abdi-llah Muhammad, 97. 

Abu 'AIT Qalandar, 231. 

Abu-1 Faraj Ibnu-1 JawzT, 65. 

Abu Sayda, 183. 

Ahmad Mujaddid, 336. 

Ahmadu Samudu, 271-2. 

Al Ma'mun, 73-4. 

'Amr ibn Murrah, 34-5. 

'Ayyash, 37. 

Baba FarTdu-d Din, 231. 

Bahau-1 Ilaqq, 231. 

Darwesh Bulbul Shah, 240. 

Darvvesh Mansfir, 86. 

Dimam ibn Tha'labah, 34. 

FTruz Shah Tugbjaq, 212. 

llaji Muhammad, 232. 

Hakim Bagus, 322. 

Hasan ibn 'AH, 180. 

Hasham PIr Gujarat!, 222. 

Ibnu-1 Hudhayl, 65 n . 

Ibrahim Abu Zarbay, 284. 

Imam Dikir, 327. 

Imam Tuweko, 322. 

Jalalu-d Din, 232. 

Khallfah Husayn, 309. 

Khatib Tungal, 320. 

Khwajah Khunmir Husaynl, 222. 

Khwajah Mu'Inu-d Din ChistI, 231. 

Malik 'Abdu-1 Latlf, 226. 

Malik ibn Dinar, 217-19. 

Malik ibn Hablb, 217- 19. 

Mawlana Hasanu-d Din, 311. 

Mawlana Ishaq, 308. 

Mawlana Jamadii-1 Kubra, 30S. 

Mawlana Malik Ibrahim, 305-6. 

Mawlawl Baqa Ilusayn Khan, 234. 

Mawlawl Hasan 'AH, 234. 

Mawlawl 'Ubaydu-llah, 232-3. 

Mir Shamsu-d Din, 241. 

Muhammad, 9-25, 28, 33-9. 

Muhammad Qhor\, 212. 

Muhammad ibn Sayyid 'AH, 222. 

Muhammad 'Uthmiinu-1 AmirGhani, 

Mulla 'All, 226. 

Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr, 12, 18-19, 20. 
Nasiiu-1 Ilatjcj Abu Muhammad, 

Nur Satagar, 225-6. 
Nuru-d Din, 302. 
Nuru-dDln Ibrahim, 309, 311. 
1'Ir Mahabir Khandayat, 221-2. 
PIr Sadru-d Din, 225. 
Safdar 'All, 234. 
Salahu-d Din, 78. 
Sayyid 'All, 325. 
Sayyid Husayn Gaysudaraz, 222. 
Sayyid Sa'iidat, 225-6. 
Sayyid Shih Farldu-d Din, 241. 
Sayyid Yusufu-d Din, 224-5. 



Shah Muhammad Sadiq Sarmast 

Husaynt, 222. 
Sharif ibn Malik, 217-18. 
Shaykh 'Abdu-llah, 301-3. 
Shayki Babu Sahib, 222. 
Shayki Isma'li, 230. 
Shaykh. Jalal, 227. 
Shaykh. Mansur, 3 1 4. 
Tufayl, 35-6. 
'Umar ibn 'Abdi-1 'Aziz, 78, 183, 

210 n . 
'Umar Idrus Basheban, 222. 
'Urwah ibn Mas 'fid, 36. 
'Uthman Danfodio, 265-7. 
Wathilah ibnu-1 Asqa', 37-8. 
Missionaries, women, 102, 197, 334-5. 
Missionary activity enjoined in the 
Qur'an, 3-4, 333. 
in times of poli- 

tical weakness, 
2, 124, 190- 1, 
318, 322-3, 

,, ,, instances of un- 

successful, 20, 
199, 200, 305. 

Mindanao, 324-5. 

Misool, 326. 

Moassina, 271. 

Moluccas, 313-316, 326. 

Mongols, 83, 84, 185-201, 203, 247-8, 

Montenegro, 169. 

Moriscoes, 123-4. 

Muhammad, 8-18, 20-44. 

,, the wars of, 28-33. 

Mu'tazilites, 64-5, 67. 

Muwallads, 120. 

Muzarabes, 117. 

NakIsah, 334-5. 

Nestoriaus, 50, 60-61, 74, 1.88-9, 242. 

New Guinea, 326-7. 
JNubia, 93-6, 267-8, 276. 

Pajajaran, 305, 307, 311-12. 
Palembang, 307-8, 316. 
Panjab, 230-31, 232-3, 235-6. 
Papuans, 326-7. 
Paulicians, 82, 138. 
Pechenegs, 335-6. 

Persia, 24, 60, 177 182, 186, 189-190, 
192-5, 245, 294, 297. 

Persecution forbidden in the Qur'an, 
,, of Christians by Muslims, 

66-8, 83, 90, 120-123, 

I95 34i n * 
,, of Christians by their co- 

religionists, 60-1, 90, 92, 
102, 113, 143-4, 168, 
169-170, 174. 
of the early Muslims, 11- 

15, 21, 29-30. 
of Muslims by the Mongols, 

by the Russians, 

Philippine Islands, 315, 324-5. 
Pilgrims to Mecca : see Ilajis. 
Pope Gregory II., 107. 
Gregory VII., 108, in. 
Hadrian I.. 114 112 , 116-17.0 
,, Innocent IV., in, 169, 188. 
John XXII., 169, 201. 
,, Leo III., 119. 
,, Leo IX., 108. 
Portuguese in the Malay Archipelago, 

293. 314, 315- 3i8, 319. 
Prester John (used of the King of 
Abyssinia), 97. 
,, (used of the chief of the 

Karaits), 188. 
Protestants converted to Islam, 140, 
142, 370-71. 

QadrIyah, 268-9. 

Raden Husayn, 310-31 1. 

Raden Patah, 307, 310-312. 

Raden Rahmat, 307-310. 

Rajputana, 231, 237. 

Religious orders, influence of the, 267- 

275- 332. 
Rubruquis : see William of Rubrouck. 
Russians, 134, 199-207. 

Sahara, no, 260, 262, 268, 274. 
Saladin, 78, 91. 
Salawatti, 326. 
Saman, 180. 
Samarqand, 182-3, 245. 
Sambawa, 323. 
Samudu, 271-2. 
Sanuslyah, 273-5, 33*. 334- 
Scanderbeg, 152. 
Segu, 271, 288. 
Senegal, 260, 270-271. 
Senegambia, 271, 273, 274, 276. 
Sennaar, 96, 98, 268, 276. 
Servia, 166 9. 



Shamanism, 187. 

Shl'ahs, 179, 181, 260, 294. 

Si Ahmad ibn Idris, 267. 

Si am, 304. 

Siberia, 206-7. 

Sierra Leone, 276. 

Silesia, 134. 

Sind, 222-225. 

Slavery under the Muslims, 148-151, 

338. 339 nl - 
Socinians converted to Islam, 366. 
Sokoto, 266. 
Somaliland, 274, 284. 
Sonrhay, 262. 
Sophronius, Metropolitan of Athens, 

Spain, 109, 1 12-124. 
Spaniards in the Malay Archipelago, 

295 3H. 315. 324-6. 
Sudan, 262-276, 278, 289-292. 
Suhayb, 21, 24. 
Sukkadana, 316-7. 
Sulu Islands, 324-6. 
Sumatra, 307-8, 316, 329. 

Takaristan, 180. 

Ta'if, 15, 36. 

Tartars, 203-7. 

Tax, capitation, paid by non-Mus- 
lims, 45, 54-7, 81, 
115, 131-2, 157, 
163.4, 177-8, 212. 
Christians in mili- 

tary service ex- 
empt from pay- 
ment of, 56-7. 
,, ,, imposed on Mus- 

lims when ex- 
empt from mili- 
tary service, 57. 

Tcheremiss, 204. 

Tchuvash, 204. 

Tedas, 274. 

Ternate, 314-15. 

Theodisclus, 361. 

Thibet, 241. 

Tibesti, 274. 

Tidor, 314. 

TijanTyah, 269-273. 

Timbuktu, 262.3, 266, 268. 

TTmiir, 210. 

Tokudar, 192.3. 

Toleration enjoined in the Qur'an, etc., 
5-6, 67. 
of Muslims acknowledged 
by Christians, 71, 123-4, 

341 nl . 
,, towards the Christian Arabs, 

44, 45, 47- 
towards the Christians of 

Egypt, 87-8, 93. 

North Africa, III. 

Russia, 200- r. 

Spain, 1 15-16. 

Syria and Palestine, 50-1, 

Turkey, 126-7, 134-5, 
153, 165. 
Traders, Muslim : see Merchants. 
Transoxania, 73, 183, 246. 
Transylvania. 134. 
Tripolis, 287. 

Turkistan, 184, 243, 247, 249. 
Turks, Saljuq, 75, 82, 184. 

Ottoman, 125-136, 142, 145- 

153. 157, 163-176. 
,, see Uigurs. 

Uigurs, 247. 

'Umar ibn 'Abdi-1 'Aziz, 58, 72, 88, 

183, 210, 222, 259. 
'Umar ibnu-1 Khattab, 13, 39, 45, 46, 
51-2, 70. 
the ordinance 

of, 52-3. 
'Umaru-1 Haji, 270-3. 
Ozbeg Khan, 199-201. 

Venetians, 127, 162, 172-4. 

Vladimir, 201 -3. 

Wadai, 264, 275, 287. 

Wahhabl reformation, influence of, 

230, 265, 299, 345-6. 
Waigama, 326. 
Waigyu, 326. 
Walata, 268. 

William of Rubrouck, 188-9. 
Women, Muslim, as missionaries, 102, 

197, 334-5- 

Yunnan, 242, 248, 255. 
Zanzibar, 278, 282. 

Zoroastrians, 177-180. 


To face Chapter XII. 

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<?? Jjn ""- Inn, 

University of Toronto 









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